Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Risk of Methadone

In choice detoxification programmes all around the world, recovering drug users are being administered methadone treatments in small, slow doses each day. It's got long-lasting effects that curb the side effects of dependency on and withdrawal from other opiates, therefore, in some cases, making it easier to break their dependencies.

What some clinics are beginning to realise, though, is that while there are positive effects of controlled doses of methadone, it's a double-edged sword. Methadone is, in itself, an opioid and highly addictive. Unfortunately, some patients find that out the hard way when they find that no longer being dependent upon one opiate came at the price of dependency on another.

It's an issue that, for some patients, the drug will be metabolised more rapidly, causing them to crave another dose sooner. This creates a heightened risk for a user to overdose if he or she begins to seek uncontrolled doses of the substance by illegitimate means, such as purchasing it off the streets. It's also an issue that the symptoms of withdrawal from methadone can be similar to, and as dangerous as, withdrawing from heroin. 

What's unsettling about it is that a patient may not realise that he or she is becoming dependent upon the methadone until it is too late. Furthermore, the initial signs of overdose are difficult to recognise by those who aren't familiar with the drug. Irregular breathing, drowsiness, dilated pupils and low blood pressure are all signs of an overdose, but one could see how they could easily go overlooked at first. Additionally, the drug doesn't interact well with other substances, like alcohol, and could lead to intense and dangerous side-effects.

The point is that just because a doctor is giving you a drug doesn't mean that it's entirely safe. In the same vein, just because a person has stopped using heroin or codeine doesn't mean they are no longer substance users. It's important to exhibit extreme care when using an aid like methadone in recovery; otherwise, you could end up having to run the course of detoxification and rehabilitation all over again.


Friday, January 11, 2013

The History of Methadone

The word 'methadone' is one that you've probably heard before, but unless you've been face-to-face with it, either personally or through a loved one, it's a difficult substance to understand. It's often used as a treatment for addiction to heroin, Oxycontin, codeine, and other opiates, but it is most definitely not a cure.

This synthetic opiate came to be during World War II when a German doctor developed and used it to treat injured soldiers after their access to morphine was cut off. It began to make its global spread in 1947 when Eli Lilly and Company introduced it to the US in 1947; it was used as an analgesic because it was superior to other drugs in terms of its half-life. The drug's effects could last up to three times as long as other opiates and, therefore, doctors preferred it.

Research began in the 1960's in an attempt to prove that methadone was a viable substitute for heroin for consistent users and was useful in the recovery from heroin dependency. From there, clinics began popping up in which methadone would be administered to patients going through recovery. Many states still use methadone in their clinics today; it does indeed assist with breaking dependency in some cases. However, in recent times, we are beginning to learn the dangers of its use – particularly, the risk of methadone addiction.

The downsides to prescribing and using methadone are manifold. Though it can help to detox from and decease use of heroin, addiction to methadone is equally as likely as addiction to heroin, and perhaps more dangerous. It's all too often that patients wish to stop their substance abuse entirely but end up merely transferring their dependency from one substance to another. The withdrawal symptoms are intense, and if one were to become addicted, it would start the process of recovery all over again.

For these reasons, the legality of methadone in clinics has been an issue that's up in the air. It has its positive effects in some cases, but in others, it can do more harm than good.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prescription Drugs on a Global Scale

It's no secret that the abuse of painkillers has been sweeping the globe over the past few years. The worldwide usage of codeine, methadone, tramadol, Xanax, kemadrine, and many others has increased drastically. As a matter of fact, almost 23 percent of the admissions into the hospital worldwide have to do with the abuse of prescription drugs.

The main reason behind the excessive usage of prescription drugs is mainly the fact that it is, in comparison with others, so accessible. Usage would initiate when the drugs were prescribed as painkillers and continue when patients would take higher dosages. Some patients even "doctor shop," finding doctors who will easily prescribe the medications to them without reason.

Young adults make up the largest demographic of prescription drug users. Throw online pharmacies, street dealers, and a lack of information and education into the mix, and you have the recipe for disaster that lead to the popularization of the drugs. Most reported cases are of users between the ages of 18 and 29 – a group that doctors argue is extremely vulnerable. 

Since we know some of the causes and we can see the effects, it's important to begin considering what we will do on a global scale to put an end to methadone, Xanax, and codeine addiction. Aside from the precautions that the distributors are taking – cracking down on their regulations in an attempt to make it more difficult to acquire these drugs – it's up to the community as well. Better education about the drugs needs to be implemented, since the main victim of this type of addiction tends to be a younger, more impressionable crowd.

Public awareness is important as well – doctors should pay closer attention to the dosages their patients seem to be taking and be stricter about giving out prescriptions. In the same vein, friends and family need to be aware of the behaviors of their loved ones.


Monday, December 3, 2012

The Methadone Question

When methadone first emerged as a viable treatment for heroin addiction, there were many reasons doctors encouraged its use. This drug, which was employed as a sort of substitute for users of heroin, has been used in detoxification and rehabilitation clinics for more than forty years. It could only be administered by doctors, so dosages were controlled, and it seemed to be a good alternative. It reacts in the body in a similar way to heroin, so it suppressed the user's need for the substance. However, it has different effects on mood and behavior, and therefore, it allowed them to maintain functional lives, hold down jobs and raise families – things that are not possible under the influence of heavy dosages of heroin.

However, while it is successful in helping some patients on their path to being drug-free, it creates a whole new issue for others. As one doctor says in a recent interview, "Methadone is to a heroin addiction what a nicotine patch is to a nicotine addiction. It is a step for people who want to get healthy and away from that."

The unfortunate truth is that while this "treatment" does assist many users in getting away from heroin and its detrimental effects, methadone addiction is a problem in itself. It could require a second bout of detox and rehab if the patient becomes dependent on it – which is often the case. It is a drug for which tolerance increase and dependence can happen quickly, especially because in the throes of recovery, patients are tempted to take it in larger doses to quiet their cravings.

So that raises the question – should it be used as a form of treatment for opiates? There are situations in which it is successful, but when it is not, it creates a new problem for patients who are already consumed with other issues. It is a question that scientists are attempting to answer, but for now, it is important for those who are considering using methadone treatment to know the risks.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Effects of Heroin on the Body

One of the most detrimental drug habits a person can form is a dependency on heroin. This opiate, which is easily one of the most damaging illegal drugs in the world, has been known to do immense harm to the user's central nervous system, brain, and respiratory system. In turn, the body withstands some excruciating side effects and the user loses control of his or her normal body functions, as well as the ability to properly engage in typical day-to-day activity.

Effects of using the drug, in the short-term, are many. These include difficulty breathing and other respiratory issues, mental disarray and compromised consciousness, nausea, vomiting, and numerous types of infections. It can also cause muscle spasms, migraines, mood swings, and hallucinations. It could get so severe as to greatly reduce the brain's ability to function and complete loss of motor skills. 

Those who suffer from heroin addiction are at a much higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and serious bacterial infections, or blood clots in the brain, heart, lungs, or other vital organs. This is the result of other impurities in the drug that do not dissolve quite so easily and therefore get stuck. Such blood clots could lead to serious infections in the body's vital organs. 

In addition, the more frequently a person uses the drug, the higher his or her tolerance is likely to get. Therefore, the user will increase the dosage in order to achieve the same feeling; every time, this closes the gap between normal use and an overdose a bit more. Heroin overdose could lead to permanent damage to the brain, heart, or nervous system, or even death.

It's far too addictive a substance to consider using casually; there are extremely high rates of accidental overdose. Once the body is addicted to heroin, treatment is almost always required to stop using. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal are an entirely separate, but equally stressful, animal from the side effects and are extremely difficult to overcome. These symptoms – such as insomnia, vomiting, sweating, muscle spasms, hallucinations, et cetera – are inevitable during withdrawal, but there are many ways to make them easier to withstand. Hence, in-patient treatment and/or detoxification programmes are a user's best bet for ceasing use because medical assistance and aided detoxifications are available. In any case, it is possible to discontinue drug use and carry on with a healthy lifestyle.