Ever since Methadone was introduced to combat opioid dependence, it has been leaned on by countless people over several decades to treat opioid abuse. For a long time methadone clinics have been looked to as a source of relief from an addiction to opioids, but are they as effective as people seem to think? Over time more people who have used methadone to try overcoming serious addictions have realized methadone maintenance also comes with a great deal of damaging side effects.
What is a methadone clinic?
A methadone clinic is a clinic for the dispensing of methadone. Because this is a schedule II opioid analgesic drug, access must be restricted. Methadone clinics are a way to provide people with this medication. But before you rush out to find the one closest to you, there are a lot of things to consider.
What is a Methadone Clinic: History of Methadone
Firstly, let us not that methadone is an opioid drug. It is used to treat pain, like most opioid medications, but most people know it as a maintenance drug for detoxing from dependence on other opioids, such as heroin. Methadone, sold under many brand names, including:
Different countries have different brands as well. A few footnotes of the history of methadone include:
1937 to 1939
Methadone was developed in Germany by Gustav Ehrhart and Max Bockmühl.
The United States approved the use of Methadone.
About 41.400 kilograms of methadone were manufactured globally
What is a Methadone Clinic: Methadone Detox
Methadone is available in various forms, including:
- Sublingual tablet
- Two different formulations designed for the patient to drink
Drinkable forms include:
- Methadose- the ready-to-dispense liquid form found in theUnited States.
- Diskets- tablets designed to work like Alka-Seltzer, dispersing rapidly in water for oral administration.
The most common method of administration is the liquid form, because it allows for small dose changes. Methadone is almost as effective when administered orally as by injection.
Detoxification using methadone is intended to be a way for people addicted to opioids such as heroin or powerful prescription drugs to taper off, but at the same time detoxification using methadone has been met with a great deal of controversy.
Many who oppose methadone clinics refer to this strategy as methadone substitution. As a treatment of opioid addiction methadone is heavily criticized for its role in what some call “social control of addicts.” Many who oppose methadone suggested that the drug does not function as much to curb addiction as to redirect it and maintain dependency. In other words, some insist methadone is essentially keeping people addicted, but making sure the money goes to drug manufactures and methadone clinics instead of street dealers.
What is a Methadone Clinic: Methadone Side-Effects
There are so many adverse effects of methadone, which may vary in range and severity depending on the individual. There include, but are not limited to:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Heat intolerance
- Chronic fatigue
- Sleep problems
- Memory Loss
- Weight gain
- Stomach pains
- Mood changes
- Decreased libido or impotence
- Urinary difficulty
- Blurred vision
- Skin rash
- Low blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Respiratory problems
Some of these adverse effects of methadone use are much more serious than others.
What is a Methadone Clinic: Withdrawal Symptoms
There is also a massive list of possible withdrawal symptoms from using methadone. This is one of the primary issues many people have with methadone treatment.
Physical withdrawals include:
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Aches and pains (especially in joints)
- Sensitivity to pain
- High blood pressure that may cause strokes
Others are more concerned with the mental aspect of the withdrawals experienced from methadone.
Cognitive withdrawals include:
- Suicidal ideation
- Drug cravings
- Hallucinations (auditory and visual)
- Panic disorder
The irony is that methadone withdrawal symptoms are even reported to last significantly longer than withdrawals from some other opioids. In some cases, people may even try to treat an opioid addiction with this drug not knowing that it is actually a much worse opioid to withdrawal from.
What is a Methadone Clinic: Methadone Overdose
As mentioned before, there are some very real dangers when it comes to using methadone.
- Between 1999 and 2004, deaths in the U.S. linked to methadone quadrupled.
- In 2004 reports credit methadone as contributing to 3,849 deaths, 82% of which were reported as accidental.
- In 2011, there were 4,418 deaths in the United States involving methadone. At the time that made up 26% of total deaths fromopioid poisoning.
Respiratory depression is probably the most common overdose risk related to opioid drugs. Other symptoms of a methadone overdose include:
- Hypoventilation (slow/shallow breathing)
- Cool, clammy skin
- Limp muscles
- Excessive vomiting
- Risks are greater with higher doses, as well as mixing methadone with any other drugs.
The risks of methadone are very, very real. In fact, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Public Health Advisory back in 2006 about methadone titled “Methadone Use for Pain Control May Result in Death and Life-Threatening Changes in Breathing and Heart Beat”. In the report, the FDA stated that they received reports of death and life-threatening side effects with patients who were newly starting methadone.
Both individuals who were starting methadone for pain, or who were trying to switch to it from another powerful narcotic pain reliever were included to be at an elevated risk, according to the FDA.
What is a Methadone Clinic: Another Way
Getting off of powerful opioid drugs, whether they are prescription narcotics or illicit street drugs, is possible without the use of methadone. While maintenance drugs can be useful to some extent as a means of harm reduction, these should not be considered as sustainable means of addiction recovery. Maintenance drugs are typically only ever effective if utilized in combination with therapy and other forms of addiction treatment.
Luckily there are other ways to get help. It is possible to be safely and effectively removed from a methadone taper through a safe medical detox. Understanding methadone can also be fatal is of vital significance. Methadone detox can be deadly if not supported by a medical staff with the right medications to help ease the pain and discomfort of the detox. Medical detox combined with a holistic treatment program is a proven strategy for saving lives.