Some people find themselves with an addiction to methadone. That addiction results from either of two scenarios: First, there are the people whose doctors prescribe methadone hydrochloride—brand name Dolophine—for chronic pain issues, and they become addicted. Second, there are those who abuse methadone as their drug of choice; they take it to get high, and then they find they need methadone withdrawal treatment.
The best, most effective treatment in these situations may be buprenorphine, better known as Suboxone. Before we get to that, however, let’s first talk about the addiction.
When Is Methadone Prescribed For Pain?
Most doctors avoid the prescribing of methadone for chronic pain. With the use of oxycodone and hydrocodone formulations under a microscope these days—opiate addiction has become a national epidemic—doctors feel a justified reluctance to expose someone to methadone.
When you find someone taking methadone for pain, then, it is most often for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia common with multiple sclerosis, herpetic neuralgia, or other types of pain that run along neural pathways. When you get a bunch of chronic pain patients together, they will avoid talking about methadone treatment withdrawal and instead they focus eagerly on sharing information about getting additional opioids for breakthrough pain or whether their doctors will also prescribe benzodiazepines.
When a doctor does prescribe methadone for pain, the dosage generally is at 5 mg or 10 mg two or three times a day. Prescribing information for methadone cautions that it should not be used for analgesic purposes unless the benefits outweigh the risks—which would include, presumably, the ultimate need for methadone withdrawal treatment.
Methadone exerts a depressing effect on the respiratory system, just like other opioids. However, it remains in the system longer than pain pills like OxyContins or Vicodins. That’s one of the very reasons that it is so effective in opioid withdrawal treatment: Someone using Oxys or Vicodins begins to crave a new dose several times a day. But methadone remains in the system over the course of a day.
Its analgesic effects, however, do not hold up for the entire time that the medication is in your system. So if your doctor prescribes it for pain, you will crave more pain relief while you still have methadone in your system. If you take another dose, you will be overloading your respiratory system. The good news is that you won’t need methadone withdrawal treatment—the bad news is, you won’t need it because you’ll be dead.
This is not a new issue. The FDA warned the public almost a decade ago about the risks of cardiac and respiratory problems associated with methadone addiction. Besides the respiratory depression, patients have also died because of abnormal heart beats that they could not even feel. They just died.
The Lure of Methadone
Some people addicted to pain pills fall victim to the false lure of methadone. They don’t have any interest in recovery; they are simply looking for the best and cheapest way to get high. Methadone will give you a feeling of euphoria the first time or two you take it, and it is very cheap. And for the addict who is uneducated about the effects of drugs on the body, they look on methadone, because it’s used in withdrawal treatment, as the granddaddy of all opioids. They have no idea that prescribed for addiction treatment its formulation and dosage amounts are entirely different. They just think they want methadone, and they seek it out.
Soon They Need Methadone Withdrawal Treatment
Whether someone obtains methadone from a doctor who prescribes it or from someone selling it on the street, the end result either way leaves them addicted and in need of methadone withdrawal treatment. If this is where you put up your hand and say, “Yes, that’s me,” then your best bet is therapy at a medication-assisted treatment program. All of them offer treatment with methadone; but you want to find one that can get you started on therapy with a medication called buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine is a generic medication carried in brand name formulations known as Suboxone, Subutex, and Zubsolv. Both Suboxone and Zubsolv contain naloxone along with the buprenorphine. The purpose of the naloxone is to disrupt the urge to use opiates for the person who takes it. If the person takes a medication that contains naloxone and then takes an opioid pain pill on top of it, they can experience precipitated withdrawal, which results in sudden and very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The Subutex contains only buprenorphine, and it is the first medication of choice for pregnant women or for those who don’t want the naloxone in their systems.
Any of those buprenorphine formulations can help the person who needs methadone withdrawal treatment, because buprenorphine, unlike methadone or other pain pills, is only a partial opiate agonist. While it fills the opioid receptors in the brain that are begging for pain pills, it does not cause euphoria. Withdrawal using buprenorphine must be medically supervised, however, because you can overdose from too much buprenorphine or if you take it with alcohol or benzodiazepines.
You Can Beat Methadone Addiction
It may sound funny, but if you’re addicted to methadone then the best place for you is a methadone treatment program. Some doctors prescribe buprenorphine from their offices, but they tend to shuttle patients in one door and out the other without addressing any other issues with them. The doctors at a methadone program, at a place that also offers buprenorphine, are committed to supervising your methadone withdrawal treatment with the type of education and therapy that will help you avoid addictive behaviors in the future.
If you’ve found yourself addicted to Dolophine or generic methadone, withdrawal treatment will help you get your life back to normal. Make a phone call today, because some treatment programs have waiting lists for buprenorphine therapy, and the sooner you call, the sooner you can get started.