Methadone – The Good The Bad and the Ugly

Methadone is seen as part of the treatment process for those trying to beat heroin addiction. While it can help many it must be known that this opiate can also bring a whole new set of addiction problems into the equation.

What is methadone?

It is a synthetic opiate used for pain relief. One of the reasons it is used by heroin addicts who are trying to kick their habit is that a single dose offers long lasting effects.

The drug works by stimulating the brain’s opioid receptors much in the same way as heroin or morphine, but its chemical make-up is different.

The major difference:

As mentioned, methadone works and offers similar effects to heroin or morphine, but its ability to give far longer lasting effects is the major differentiator.

When taken, methadone is naturally released intro a user’s system far more slowly, and does not wear off anywhere nearly as quickly.

Those taking methadone can find one ‘hit’ lasting anywhere between 8 hours and 2.5 days. It needs to be understood that factors such as the user’s current tolerance to opioids and the amount of methadone taken will affect a user’s craving for more.

Sensible substitute?

Methadone offers similar, but longer lasting effects to heroin so it would seem to be the perfect alternative for those trying to beat heroin addiction.

Using methadone could mean that only one dose a day is required to help ward off cravings for multiple heroin hits. It also prevents the unwanted withdrawal symptoms that are part and parcel of coming off heroin.

So, where is the concern?

It can be seen from the above that because methadone’s effects last that much longer than those of heroin, and therefore makes it the perfect ‘treatment’ to help heroin addicts beat their current addiction.

While the theory is sound, the problem comes with regular use of methadone over a sustained period. Such use leaves a user wide-open to physical and mental issues that are similar to those a heroin addict has.

For heroin users affected in this way they are simply replacing one devastating addiction for another.

Methadone withdrawal – A huge challenge:

Those users who replace heroin dependence with a dependence on methadone have a serious challenge to withdraw from it.

Many drug professionals are now of the opinion that methadone withdrawal is as, if not more difficult to achieve that withdrawing from heroin alone.

Pronounced withdrawal symptoms:

Similar withdrawal symptoms are received by users coming of either heroin or methadone, but the methadone withdrawal symptoms are more pronounced.

The initial stages of withdrawal leave a person feeling as if they have a severe dose of flu. They feel tired, anxious, and restless, suffer from sweating and shivering episodes and bouts of muscle pains and aches. These symptoms are stronger for those coming of methadone.

The same goes for the unwanted effects received as withdrawal continues, both are similar, but the methadone user feels them more acutely.

Consider alternatives:

Any heroin addict looking to beat their addiction should not accept methadone as a treatment without exploring other alternatives.

It is imperative that an experienced drug rehabilitation counsellor is spoken to in order to understand the various methods of treatment that will help a heroin addict beat their dependence in the most positive way.

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