For decades, methadone was the preferred medication in opioid detox regimens across the country and beyond. However, in recent years, many detox treatment providers have moved away from using methadone as their go-to medication, and some refuse to prescribe it altogether.
The issue? Methadone is also a type of opioid, and it can be addictive in itself. In several cases, some drug users simply ended up swapping out heroin or oxycodone addiction for another form of opioid addiction after undergoing a detox program.
This is why we at Pathways Recovery never turn to methadone to help clients break their addiction to stronger forms of opioids such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, etc. Instead we offer a residential methadone detox program to help people comfortably work through the aches and pains of withdrawal from this prescription substance.
Pathways Recovery, located outside of Sacramento in the town of Citrus Heights, California, offers medical detoxification for many types of substances, but we particularly pride ourselves on our effectiveness in treating methadone addiction – a service which many treatment centers don’t even offer.
Continue reading to learn the dangers of methadone addiction, plus the steps we take to provide a solution at Pathways Recovery.
Methadone Severe and Minor Side Effects
As with any opioid medication, you cannot take methadone without the risk of a few side effects, some minor and some life-threatening. Some health experts maintain that methadone is at least as addictive as heroin, and the FDA says it stays in the system longer.
To put the dangers in perspective, the number of drug overdose or poisoning deaths involving methadone reached as high as 5,518 in 2007, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). This explains why many physicians and detox providers have shied away from prescribing methadone to break a different form of opioid addiction. However, even as recently as 2011, methadone was involved in more than a quarter of all opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths, although that was down from 38 percent in 2007.
When it comes to the side effects of methadone, some of the more common, minor symptoms include:
- Restlessness and insomnia
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased sex drive
- Overall weakness in the body
Health experts recommend calling your primary care physician if you experience one of these severe side effects after taking methadone:
- Shallow breathing
- Chest pain
- Breathing trouble
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feeling lightheaded
If you have an allergic reaction to taking methadone – such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips or throat – you should seek emergency medical help.
Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms
Someone who has become dependent on methadone will start experiencing withdrawal roughly 30 hours after last consuming the drug. Withdrawal symptoms hit the hardest in the first week, but they can last for a few more weeks.
Many of the withdrawal symptoms have to do with aches and pains, since methadone is a painkiller, after all. Other common symptoms at the very start of methadone withdrawal are:
- Profuse sweating
As withdrawal progresses, the sufferer will feel increasingly nauseous. Other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and cramps may rear their ugly heads too.
Pathways Recovery’s Methadone Detox Program
As you have read, the side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with methadone are no joke. That is why we’re here in Northern California to get methadone users into detox and help them come down from their chemical dependency as comfortably as possible.
Pathways Recovery’s residential methadone detox program generally lasts from 10 days to 2 weeks – or even longer, depending on the client’s symptoms. We have a staff-to-client ratio of 3-to-1, in addition to 24-hour supervision and care while the client is staying at our cozy residential detox facility.
In between treatments, clients can swim in the pool, soak in the hot tub or relax in the sun in the backyard of our property. Don’t forget that all residential clients are treated to hearty and delicious meals, freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices, protein smoothies, and vitamin and amino acid supplements, all of which help the client feel recharged and ready to conquer the difficulty of withdrawal.
Methadone Detox with a Suboxone Option
Many detox experts nationwide now often recommend Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) rather than methadone to treat opiate withdrawal, and we at Pathways Recovery have embraced this philosophy.
Like methadone, Suboxone is also an opioid, but it has shown to be much less addictive and have much less severe side effects. We have found Suboxone to be very effective with lessening the withdrawal symptoms of methadone, and we also make sure to titrate each client off this milder opioid substance before they leave our detox program.
We understand if a client has reservations about switching to another opioid or being responsible for the costs associated with the medication. Therefore, we also offer non-Suboxone options for helping the individual work through methadone withdrawal. This could mean different, more affordable medications, or simply closer attention and counseling from our detox staff. Whichever path the client chooses, we’re prepared to help them overcome methadone withdrawal and get on the right path to long-term recovery.