Methadone addiction treatment is normally used as a replacement drug therapy for people addicted to opiates such as heroin and morphine. Methadone is very much like morphine; however, it is less addictive and does not cause as many harmful side effects. It is normally used to replace other opiates to lessen withdrawal symptoms. In most cases, the dosage of methadone is gradually decreased, over an extended period of time, until the user is no longer addicted.
Most of the time, methadone treatment is available through clinics that specialize in drug addition. Addicts must enroll in the program and agree to strict maintenance schedules. For some addicts, hospitalization may be required in the early stages of methadone addiction treatment. This is usually in cases where overall health is compromised or the addiction is very severe. In other cases, addicts may be allowed to begin the program on an outpatient basis.
When opiates enter the bloodstream, it causes the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine then occupies receptors in the brain called opioid receptors. After a period of use, the body will start to exhibit withdrawal symptoms if the opioid receptors are not occupied. Methadone can occupy these receptors in the same way as more habit-forming opiates, thus halting or diminishing withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone is also an addictive substance, though generally less addictive than most opiates. In addition, methadone is not as debilitating to overall health and withdrawal is usually less severe. Methadone is usually given orally, once per day, and though it does not produce the same effects as opiates, it normally eliminates the craving for these drugs.
The dosage of methadone given depends on the severity of the addiction and the pace of rehabilitation. Most programs aim for complete recovery, which includes curing the initial addiction then slowly weaning the addict away from the use of methadone as well. In some cases, addicts must participate in methadone addiction treatment for several years before completely ridding themselves of addition.
Side effects of methadone include nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes. More severe side effects include difficulty breathing and lowered blood pressure. In rare cases, methadone can cause death. When this occurs, it is usually because the drug tolerance level has been miscalculated, which can lead to an accidental overdose. Those who believe they could benefit from methadone addiction treatment should make sure they enroll in a reputable, board certified program.