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What Happens in Methadone Treatment Centers?

Methadone is a very addictive alternative painkiller. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Methadone is a long acting medication that doctors prescribe to treat opiate withdrawal. What happens in Methadone treatment centers depends on the addict, the addiction, and which type of treatment you choose.

Methadone Addiction

methadone addiction

Methadone addiction can cause anxiety and irritation.

Methadone addiction is usually a byproduct of methadone treatment for opiate addiction. Methadone is a highly addictive drug but it effectively stops severe opiate addiction and blocks the unpleasant effects of withdrawal. This is why many doctors still use it to treat opiate addiction today. Unfortunately, it is very easy to start using more and more methadone to achieve a high. Many people who use methadone fall into this trap.

Methadone addiction is very similar to other opiate addictions. People become addicted because methadone is essentially an opiate that blocks other opiates and stops you from feeling the symptoms of withdrawal. Unfortunately, you might end up in withdrawal from the methadone if it is not tapered correctly. The methadone withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Anxiety,
  • Agitation,
  • Muscle cramps,
  • Stomach cramps,
  • General aches,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Insomnia, and
  • Depression.

These symptoms are easily avoided by tapering the dosage of methadone down until you either go into a mild withdrawal or none at all.

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

If you choose to withdrawal off methadone completely without tapering you can expect symptoms to start around 12 hours after your last dose. These withdrawal symptoms are normally very intense and very severe. Doctors call this acute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal lasts anywhere from seven days to over a month depending on:

  • Length of use,
  • Weight of users,
  • Amount of use at a given time,
  • Dosage of methadone,
  • Average daily usage, and
  • Other medications involved.

Many doctors prefer to start medication replacement therapy at this time. According to the National Library of Medicine’s article, “Is Methadone Too Dangerous to Treat Opiate Withdrawal.” Methadone is easily diverted and has the potential for overdose, so it should be closely monitored. In an inpatient setting the doctor can observe the patient and track their progress and symptoms. In an outpatient setting it may be a full 24 hours before more of the drug is given.

The next stage of withdrawal begins at around two to a month after the last dose of methadone. This stage is usually characterized by more psychological symptoms than physical ones. Some of these psychological symptoms are:

  • Cravings,
  • Depression,
  • Anxiety, and
  • Loss of pleasurable feelings.

This stage lasts anywhere from a few months up to several years. Although these symptoms are psychological, they can be very intense and upsetting. The depression and anxiety can easily trigger a relapse back into opiate or methadone use.

Most people who attempt to go through methadone withdrawal on their own end up relapsing. It normally takes both counseling and medication tapering to stop a methadone addiction without relapsing.

Inpatient Methadone Treatment

In an inpatient treatment center, the first thing that happens is a physical detox. You will need to come off the methadone physically. Some treatment centers do this with drugs such as Suboxone, while others will help you do it without a replacement drug. Other times a doctor will taper you off methadone slowly. Depending on why you were taking painkillers in the first place, a treatment center might choose a different painkiller to switch you to.

Doctors usually prescribe medication to take care of the symptoms of withdrawal. These medications range from replacements to common over the counter drugs. Once you are physically off methadone, they will start inpatient counseling. This phase of drug treatment involves finding the cause of the addiction and treating any mental issues that arise because of withdrawal. This portion usually involves two forms of therapy.

  • Individual therapy – you meet with a counselor alone and work on the problems that concern you most.
  • Group therapy – a group of people with similar issues meet with a therapist and try to help each other overcome the issues they have.

Inpatient treatment is usually relatively expensive unless you attend a government run hospital. You will also have to take time off work to receive treatment but it is usually the most effective form of methadone treatment.

Outpatient Methadone Treatment

In an outpatient methadone treatment center, you go to outpatient appointments instead of living at the facility. Most people who choose outpatient therapy do so because they prefer to remain at home or they have obligations that do not allow them to take the time for inpatient therapy. Outpatient centers work similarly to inpatient centers. You go through a detox phase that involves either daily or weekly visits to a clinic. Once this phase is done, you begin counseling sessions similar to those in inpatient rehab.

The main difference between the two rehabs is one is residential the other is not. If cost is a factor outpatient rehab is less expensive than inpatient. It is also riskier. It is much easier to relapse if you are in outpatient treatment. You are exposed to your triggers and all of the places you used drugs previously. You also have better access to the drugs that got you into trouble in the first place.

In methadone rehab centers, two things always happen; A detox program is followed by intensive therapy. This makes the most effective treatment combination. Some rehab centers will start you inpatient and then move to you to outpatient methadone rehab. For more information on methadone treatment and rehab facilities that offer it, call 800-481-6320Who Answers?.

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