How Does Methadone Work?

How Does Methadone Work?Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication that is commonly used to help people who are addicted to opiates overcome the disease. Methadone can be used to treat people who are addicted to a number of drugs, including the following:

  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Opium
  • Prescription painkillers derived from opium

Methadone has been available in the U.S. since 1947 and has successfully helped millions of addicts to wean off of other opiate drugs.

The Physiological Effects of Methadone

When a person becomes addicted to opiates, he may begin to experience severe withdrawal symptoms if the drug use is stopped. Opiates work by binding to specialized chemical receptors in the brain, blocking emotional and physical pain and inducing a euphoric high. Methadone binds to those same receptors and can satisfy the brain’s need for the opiate’s chemicals without producing the same level of intoxicating or sedative euphoria. Addicts who take methadone may find that their cravings for opiates decrease over time. This can often allow them to rebuild their lives and repair relationships damaged by their addictions.

Methadone also often allows a patient to address the psychological effects of addiction without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms during detox. Patients on licensed methadone treatment programs are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means they cannot be denied employment because of their methadone use. In some cases, methadone can be safely taken with medical supervision for months or years.

How Methadone Treatment Works

Methadone is commonly administered in liquid, pill or injection form by specially licensed physicians in methadone therapy clinics. The side effects are minimal once the correct dosage is established. A standard dose is meant to satisfy an addict’s need for opiates for 24 to 36 hours. Methadone is unlikely to give opiate addicts a high regardless of dosage, but, if a non-addict takes methadone, he may experience an opiate high. Taking methadone outside of a medically supervised treatment plan can be dangerous since these users may become addicted to methadone or other opiates as a result.

While a patient can safely remain on methadone therapy for an extended period of time, many desire to stop using methadone eventually. Quitting methadone requires a carefully supervised gradual approach that is administered by a methadone treatment professional. Methadone clinics and detoxification programs can help patients to safely taper their methadone use and stop taking the drug.

Finding Help for Opiate Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with opiate addiction, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about opiate addiction and how methadone works. Methadone treatment is one of several options available for opiate addiction rehab and we can help you find the best treatment option for your situation. If you have been taking methadone as part of a therapy program and are ready to stop taking drugs altogether, we can help. Please call now.