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Choosing the Top Exclusive Methadone Treatment Program

Methadone is an opioid of synthetic origin that works as a remedy for bodily pains and chemical dependency. The drug is controversial in certain circles due to its own nature as an opioid, especially amongst proponents of chemical abstinence in the realm of drug treatment. When properly administered, however, methadone has shown to be highly effective at steering users away from hard opioids like heroin and morphine.

As a remedial drug, methadone is popular with recovering addicts. Offering euphoria that is similar to many harder drugs, methadone gives users time to break from their dependencies and ultimately adjust to chemical-free lives. On proper dosages, methadone patients experience the calm and blissful feelings that heroin initially provides. Yet methadone spares users from the adverse effects of harder drugs, which ultimately allows addicts to function normally while suppressing their withdrawal symptoms.

Controversies Surrounding Methadone

Debates surrounding drug addiction tend to favor a common outcome: total withdrawal. The use of remedial drugs to suppress the withdrawal symptoms of other drugs is therefore an invite for controversy. Arguments both for and against methadone have come from some high-profile former addicts, including English comedian Russell Brand, an abstinence-based heroin addict in recovery, who essentially decries methadone treatment as an excuse to keep addicts on drugs.

There is a big difference, however, between compulsively consuming an illegal substance and having a medicine administered in measured doses. As pointed out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), heroin addicts shoot the substance straight into their bloodstreams, thereby producing instant rushes of euphoria. Once the comedown hits, users retake the drug to repeat those same sensations, thereby forming addictions. In contrast, the oral administration of methadone produces more gradual onsets of non-intoxicating euphoria, which effectively suppresses unwanted cravings.

*What Are the Key Arguments in Favor of Methadone Treatment?

Despite its controversy as an opioid that treats opioid addiction, countless figures in the medical industry have championed methadone maintenance treatment, as summarized in the following arguments put forth by the National Library of Medicine (NLM):

  • Methadone treatment has consistently shown to effectively reduce incidents of heroin addictions and overdoses over the past five decades.
  • Addicts who undergo methadone treatment face reduced risks of contracting diseases associated with heroin usage, such as HIV and hepatitis.
  • Properly administered methadone treatments have proven to be safe and non-sedating for addicts across the board, even pregnant women.
  • Addictions are medical disorders that can be treated, but not cured, and thus methadone is the safest and most effective medication for recovering addicts.

Proper administration is crucial in methadone treatment. The NLM states that the majority of patients need 80-120 mg/d of methadone to adequately correct the symptoms of heroin addiction. Others, like Nora D. Volkow, M.D. of NIDA, have stressed that behavior counseling should also be worked into the overall regimens of patients undergoing methadone treatment.

When Methadone Interacts With Other Drugs

Concerns over drug interactions center foremost on whether one substance will aggravate or alleviate the effects of another. Since methadone primarily works as an anti-addiction substance, researchers have been especially concerned with the physiological ramifications of usage and discontinuation among patients who engage in various harder drugs. In Methadone-Drug Interactions, a team of medical researchers led by Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, suggest that interactions between methadone and depressants can have respiratory consequences, particularly in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular problems.

Health is one of the key determinants of any treatment program, because the bodily weight and metabolism of a patient can serious impact their absorption of a given medication. When it comes to methadone treatment, patients can either dampen or intensify their dosages unintentionally through the simultaneous usage of other medications. Some medications quicken the metabolism of methadone through the body, while others slow that process and necessitate the use of higher dosages. There are even certain prescription drugs that negate the effects of methadone altogether, which makes it crucial to know which medicines to avoid before undergoing methadone maintenance treatment.

*Which Medications Counteract the Benefits of Methadone?

In a mini-book entitled About Methadone and Buprenorphine, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) identifies a range of medications that conflict in varying degrees with methadone treatment. Drugs that hasten the metabolism of methadone and ultimately necessitate higher dosages include the following:

  • Amprenavir (Agenerase)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Efavirenz (Sustiva)

Drugs that slow the metabolism of methadone and potentially spawn side effects include the following:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral)

Drugs that work as opioid blockers and thus negate the purpose of methadone include the following:

  • Naltrexone (Revia)
  • Pentazocine (Talwin)
  • Tramadol (Ultram)

Mixing Methadone and Cocaine

The success of methadone maintenance treatment in combating heroin addiction has aroused hopes that such treatments could also curb cocaine usage. Resulting studies have been less than favorable, and many answers can be found in speedballs: a popular street drug made from a combination of cocaine and heroin. The former works at agitating users while the latter causes a mellowing sensation, thus allowing the two drugs to alleviate the effects of one another when combined.

The problem lies in the differing expectations between addicts who use either cocaine or heroin exclusively, because the effects of one drug can sometimes resemble the withdrawal symptoms associated with the other. Studies into the effectiveness of methadone treatment for cocaine addiction are still ongoing, however, despite the general assumption that opioids contradict, rather than appease, the desires of cocaine users.

In an effort to renew hopes on this subject, the NIDA has funded recent studies in which methadone has been administered to cocaine-injected lab rats. For several weeks, these rats were injected with cocaine and placed into one chamber, and then injected with saline and placed into another chamber – thus causing the rats to associate each chamber with the preceding drug injection. After several days away from these drugs, some rats were administered varying degrees of methadone. Once released, the rats with no dosages headed straight for the cocaine chamber, but the rats given high amounts of methadone showed no particular preferences, thus indicating a drop in cocaine-seeking behavior.

Interactions Between Methadone and Alcohol

It has long been common knowledge that alcohol and medications should never be combined. As a legal yet addictive psychoactive drug, alcohol can have profound effects on the central nervous system when consumed in large quantities. High levels of blood alcohol content, or “drunkenness,” can severely impact a person’s physical coordination and sense of moral judgment. When under the influence of alcohol, recovering substance abusers face an increased likelihood of straying from their regimens.

Some of the most toxic conflicts between alcohol and drugs involve illicit and licit substances that function as depressants. Due to its effects on the central nervous system, alcohol can be especially volatile when mixed with barbiturates, antidepressants, and opioids like heroin and methadone. Therefore, a person seeking treatment over an illicit substance like heroin in a top exclusive methadone treatment facility would only be exacerbating matters by simultaneously consuming alcohol.

*What Are the Primary Risks of Combining Alcohol With Methadone?

Longtime info pooled by the NLM on opioid interactions with alcohol and vice versa has shed light on the numerous consequences of combining the two:

  • More than half of all overdoses linked to opioid usage have also involved excessive amounts of alcohol consumption.
  • Damage to the liver – which is often caused by heavy drinking – can seriously compromise the benefits of methadone.
  • Alcoholics who use opioids generally perform worse in recovery programs than their drug-free counterparts.
  • Exceeding numbers of addicts undergoing methadone maintenance treatment have also been recognized as alcoholics.

Issues When Mixing Methadone and Benzodiazepine

One of the more double-edged prescription drugs is benzodiazepine, which acts as an anticonvulsant in short-term doses but can lead to its own dependencies in the long run. Benefits of benzodiazepine include sedation and muscle relaxation, and the drug is often administered in the treatment of alcoholism, seizures, insomnia and various panic disorders. Unfortunately, benzodiazepine can also have frightening effects upon excessive long-term users, including cognitive deficits, psychomotor retardation and memory impairment. Though seldom fatal on its own, the combination of benzodiazepine with other sedating drugs like methadone can indeed be lethal.

Combining Methadone and Barbiturates

The precursor to benzodiazepines, barbiturates were marketed as a sedative throughout the early half of the 20th century. As recreational abuse accelerated after 1950, the addictive and adverse consequences of barbiturates came to be recognized, and several forms of the drug were outlawed under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Administered usage of certain barbiturates continues to this day, however, in treatments of anesthesia and euthanasia. As a sedative even more powerful than benzodiazepine, barbiturates should never be used by anyone undergoing methadone treatment.

Entering a Methadone Treatment Program

Despite the obvious controversies, methadone is one of the most championed forms of non-abstinence addiction treatment within the medical community. If heroin addiction has overtaken the life of someone close to you, there are methadone treatment programs of varying prices that can be found throughout the country. Call us to learn more about the methadone treatment options in your area and end the curse of opioid addiction amongst the people you love. Likewise, if someone you know has become addicted to methadone in attempts to treat another addiction, we can help them find a program that will lead them to full sobriety.