Why Does Methadone Addiction Escalate?

Why Does Methadone Addiction Escalate?Traditionally methadone has been used to treat heroin addiction. It staves off symptoms of withdrawal in heroin addicts, but does not produce euphoria or the debilitating stupor of a heroin high. Therefore, it allows heroin addicts to function while they are in recovery. Methadone also has a much longer cycle than heroin, meaning recovering heroin addicts do not need as many doses to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Increasing Illicit Use of Methadone

Methadone is increasingly finding its way onto the black market, and recreational methadone abuse is becoming more of a problem. Methadone is cheaper than heroin, and at times it may be easier to obtain than heroin or synthetic opioids such as OxyContin. Methadone-related overdose deaths have also increased in recent years, which may be due partly to the different effects of the drug. Since methadone is slower acting, heroin or opioid users may think methadone isn’t as powerful since they don’t feel the effects as quickly as they are used to with their drugs. As a result, they will take more of the drug, which can cause overdose before they even know it. By the time addicts feel the effects of the drug it is too late.

Methadone Tolerance and Withdrawal

Methadone addiction often escalates because methadone, like all opiates, produces a tolerance which requires users to take ever-increasing doses to achieve the same effect. Methadone withdrawal is also a significant factor in the escalation of methadone addiction. Methadone is as addictive as heroin, but the withdrawal symptoms last much longer: up to 30 days or more as compared to up to 10 days for heroin withdrawal. The agony of emerging withdrawal symptoms is often enough to prevent many users from attempting to quit. This is especially true of recreational users, since legitimate methadone therapy usually involves a gradual reduction of dosage under professional supervision.

Finally, methadone addiction can escalate due to the nature of opiate addiction; users fall more and more into the lifestyle, become increasingly dependent on the drug physically and get to the point where methadone use is a daily habit. They simply don’t know any other way to live.

Treatment for Methadone Addiction

Methadone addiction can be treated successfully. Professional treatment will include medically supervised detox to reduce the dosage gradually and to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Counseling for behavioral issues that contributed to addiction will help recovering addicts learn effective coping strategies. Also, counseling for any co-occurring disorders such as depression will help patients resolve the issues that led to methadone use in the first place.
If you are addicted to methadone and would like help finding professional treatment, or if you simply have questions about methadone addiction, treatment and recovery, call us. Our helpline is toll free and we are available 24 hours a day.