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.
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