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What is Methadone?
Methadone is part of the opioid family. Similar to narcotic medications like morphine and provides similar effects to opiates like codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and heroin but with milder withdrawal symptoms. It can also block the effects of opioids and reduce drug cravings.
While this seems ideal, Methadone is highly addictive itself. Just like other drugs, methadone can alter the chemistry of the brain and people develop a tolerance to it. Because it stays in the body for a long period, methadone detox is difficult.
What are the effects of Methadone?
Because methadone is similar to heroin, it has similar effects on the body, when it is used during heroin detox.
The short-term effects of methadone on the body can include the following:
- Feelings of euphoria
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shallower breathing
- Poor Sexual Function
The long-term effects of methadone addiction or misuse may include:
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage
- Liver damage
Methadone can also be addictive. People who take it often require a methadone detox to remove their dependence on the drug safely.
What is Methadone Withdrawal?
Methadone can be extremely physically addictive, especially when taken in high doses. If taken frequently, tolerance to methadone can develop quickly, which means the user will require more of the drug to achieve the desired effects.
The body becomes dependent on methadone to function normally. Once this happens, those who quit taking the drug will experience withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal process can cause adverse symptoms, methadone users are advised to detox in a medical environment.
Symptoms of withdrawal from methadone are similar to those of other opiates, such as heroin and morphine. Many users especially struggle with methadone withdrawal because the medication stays in the body longer. Methadone withdrawal symptoms are usually moderate and flu-like.
Common and severe symptoms include:
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach cramps
Those with more severe methadone addictions will likely experience more serious withdrawal symptoms. If the user is addicted to multiple substances, the withdrawal process may be longer and more intense.
Methadone Withdrawal Timeline
The first seven to 10 days are often the worst, although in some cases, this extends for longer. Methadone stays in the body for significantly longer than other medications, and in some cases peak withdrawal will not start until 7 days. At this point flu-like physical symptoms and distressing psychological symptoms such as anxiety often appear. Over the next several weeks, withdrawal symptoms will fade.
Symptoms of withdrawal usually don’t begin until at least 30 hours after user’s last dose of methadone, and it may take even longer depending on the amount used. Physical symptoms, such as chills, fever, rapid heartbeat, and muscle aches, will begin during this time.
Over the next week or so, methadone cravings will be strong. Users may face anxiety, body aches and pains, nausea, and insomnia, as well as irritability and anxiety. Flu-like physical symptoms will persist. Due to how long methadone stays in the body, it often takes between 3 and 8 days for symptoms to peak. At this point, additional symptoms such as depression, vomiting, and cramps begin to appear.
After withdrawal peaks, symptoms will begin to subside, although some will remain such as irritability, diarrhea, and physical discomfort. Users may still feel strong drug cravings and depression may set in. Depression can become severe and some patients may have difficulty feeling pleasure or getting motivated.
Withdrawal symptoms from methadone such as low energy levels, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and cravings typically persist for 2-3 weeks. After the 3-6 week detox process is over, many former methadone users will experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS. PAWS may continue for many months, and in some cases for up to 2 years. PAWS may include irritability, anxiety, depression, the inability to feel pleasure, difficulty sleeping, and poor concentration.
Managing Symptoms in a Detox Facility
Methadone is an extremely difficult substance to withdraw from alone because the withdrawal symptoms can last up to one month.
At New Outlook Detox, our patients’ safety and comfort are our top concern during this difficult time. Our facility can help you detox from harmful medications like methadone that cause physical dependence and produce symptoms of withdrawal when ceased. Our professional and licensed staff are there for the individual by offering healing – physically, spiritually, and emotionally.