It’s very difficult for opiate users to get treatment because opiates are both psychologically and physically addictive. The user will get sick if he or she doesn’t have the drug. Methadone can be used to treat opiate dependence. Although methadone itself is an opiate, it can also be used to help heroin and prescription pain killer addicts.
The University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) posted a brief history and background of methadone on their site. Methadone was developed during the 1930s by German scientists searching for a less addictive synthetic opiate. Methadone was eventually discovered to be an opiate antagonist that can treat opiate addictions. The drug was able to reduce cravings and by the 1970s research was gaining steam. By 2001, regulations were modified to allow physicians and other health care professionals to provide methadone more effectively and consistently to treat opiate addictions.
Even with methadone, people who have become dependent on opiates may have severe withdrawal when they stop taking the drugs. They might even need medical supervision during such periods. Methadone is not a magic pill. It’s a serious drug which must be used correctly to avoid abuse.
According to CESAR the drug is often taken orally in the form of a tablet, powder, or liquid form. The effects can last 24 to 36 hours, but the dosage needs to be carefully controlled depending on the user’s age, weight, and tolerance. This article was written by a woman named Jade Ryan who battled a heroin and methadone addiction. Ryan describes how she became hooked on heroin and then used methadone without any supervision as a way to break her addiction. However, this only worsened her addiction. Ryan would trek to the clinic, pay for her methadone syrup, and then black out after that. She also began to take cocaine as a stimulant to get through her day, but she eventually lost control and had to seek help from her parents. She finishes the article by describing going cold turkey in her parents’ house and the misery she experienced from the withdrawal symptoms of methadone.
As with any drug, there is no perfect dosage. Methadone does have adverse effects and many of these can leave someone in the emergency room fighting for their lives. Some of the short term adverse effects of methadone are restlessness, vomiting, nausea, slowed breathing, severe sweating, and constipation. The drug can also cause respiration problems, severe withdrawal symptoms, pregnancy complications, and even death. The road to sobriety and overcoming addiction does not involve taking a magic pill, drink, or one therapy session. Sobriety, once achieved, must last for the rest of someone’s life.