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Quick Facts About Methadone

by Nick

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using methadone is one of the most successful options available to people struggling with opioid use disorder. Methadone treatment combined with counseling are powerful recovery tools for addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription pain medications. If you’re considering entering an opioid treatment program (OTP), here are some methadone quick facts you should know.

Methadone Is an Opioid Agonist

Methadone is an opioid agonist medication frequently used in MAT to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It helps restore the brain’s chemical balance so you can stop using illicit opioids, start to feel normal and focus on your recovery. Even though methadone activates the same receptors in the brain as opioids, it does not create feelings of sedation or euphoria. Single treatments generally last for 24 to 36 hours.

Methadone Has a Long History

Methadone was first developed in Germany in the late 1930s as a synthetic alternative to morphine. It’s been used in the United States for drug addiction treatment for over 50 years with impressive results.

Methadone Is One of the Most Highly Regulated Prescriptions in the United States

In the United States, methadone can only be dispensed at highly monitored and regulated OTPs. Extensive federal and state regulations are in place to prevent the misuse of methadone. When patients enter methadone treatment, they’re required to visit an OTP clinic every day during the initial phase to take their methadone under the supervision of medical professionals.

Methadone Is Dispensed in Three Different Forms

Methadone can be given in three different forms that all prevent diversion.

  • Liquid: An automated measuring pump dispenses with calculated precision.
  • Wafers: Also called tablets, these can be dissolved in water and administered orally.
  • Powder: The powder form can be dissolved in water and taken orally.

Methadone Maintenance Success Rates Range From 60 to 90%

While success is a highly subjective term that varies from person to person, research has shown that methadone is a highly effective treatment for opioid use disorder and has a number of benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk of overdose
  • Reduced mortality rate
  • Reduced involvement in criminal activity
  • Improved employment viability
  • Improved family stability

Methadone Is Not a Cure for Opioid Addiction

While methadone is a highly effective treatment, it does not cure patients of opioid addiction. During the maintenance period, when patients are weaning off illicit opioids, withdrawal symptoms and cravings can make them extremely vulnerable to relapse. Methadone carries patients safely through this time and acts as a replacement that does not impair their ability to function. Methadone provides patients the physical relief they need to focus on counseling and long-term recovery tools.

Side Effects Are Generally Mild

When prescribed correctly, methadone helps stabilize an opioid’s effect on the body. While some side effects may occur, these are generally quite mild and usually fade within the first few weeks. The most commonly reported side effects of methadone include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Sedation
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in mood

Contact Health Care Resource Centers to Learn More About Methadone Treatment

If you are struggling with opioid addiction and would like to learn if methadone treatment may be right for you, we invite you to contact HCRC today. Our New England clinics specialize in medication-assisted treatment using methadone. Reach out to us online or give us a call at 866.758.7769.

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