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Signs of Methadone Abuse and Addiction

Methadone, a synthetic opioid prescribed primarily for pain management and to treat opioid addiction, can be highly effective when used correctly.

However, like any medication with the potential for abuse, it carries the risk of dependency and addiction. Recognizing the signs of methadone abuse and addiction is crucial for early intervention and ensuring individuals receive appropriate help. 

How People Use Methadone

Methadone is a medication that can be used in different ways, depending on the prescribed purpose. For individuals seeking relief from chronic pain, methadone is typically taken orally as tablets or liquid. 

For those recovering from opioid addiction, methadon is often administered as part of medication-assisted treatment as part of an addiction recovery treatment program. However, regardless of its usefulness when taken as directed, cases of methadone abuse and addiction do occur.

Why Is Methadone Addictive?

Methadone is addictive due to its pharmacological properties as an opioid. It acts on the same receptors in the brain that are affected by other opioids, such as heroin or prescription opioid painkillers. When taken, methadone produces feelings of euphoria and pain relief, which can create a powerful psychological and physical craving for the drug. 

Over time, individuals may develop tolerance to methadone’s effects, requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effect and euphoria. This cycle of increasing dosage to offset tolerance leads to dependence and addiction.

Signs of Methadone Abuse

Several signs may indicate methadone abuse and addiction, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Poor coordination
  • Increased secrecy about drug use
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Neglected responsibilities
  • Neglected personal hygiene or appearance
  • Doctor shopping
  • Social withdrawal
  • No longer finding pleasure in activities and hobbies previously enjoyed
  • Financial issues
  • Increased risk-taking behaviors

Short and Long-Term Effects of Methadone Abuse

There are several short-term effects of methadone abuse depending on the frequency of use, the amount used, and the duration of use. Methadone produces feelings of intense pleasure and euphoria, especially when taken in higher doses than prescribed. The drug’s central nervous system depressant properties can cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, and a relaxed state. Methadone also provides temporary relief from moderate to severe pain. One of the negative short-term side effects of methadone abuse is nausea and vomiting.

Long-term methadone usage can negatively impact cognitive abilities like memory retention, problem-solving abilities, and concentration. Prolonged methadone abuse often results in physical dependence and tolerance of the drug. This creates an ongoing cycle where higher doses are needed to achieve the desired effects to offset tolerance. Another long-term effect is characterized by an increase in compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. Chronic misuse has also been associated with cardiovascular issues, including irregular heart rate or rhythm.

Risk Factors for Methadone Addiction

Several risk factors can contribute to the development of methadone addiction. Individuals with a history of substance abuse, especially opioids or other addictive substances, are at a higher risk for methadone addiction.

Pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can increase vulnerability to opioid addiction and misuse. In addition, people who have unresolved past traumas, such as physical or sexual abuse, may turn to substances like methadone as a coping mechanism.

Having a family history of drug or alcohol use disorders increases the likelihood of developing an addiction as a result of genetic and environmental factors. Furthermore, the lack of support systems, isolation, loneliness, and limited healthy relationships can contribute to an increased risk of developing methadone use disorders.

Another risk factor for methadone addiction is unemployment or financial difficulties. Economic instability often leads individuals towards self-medicating anxiety, stress, and depression with drugs like methadone in an attempt to cope.

Methadone Abuse and Addiction Treatment

Treatment for methadone abuse and addiction typically involves a combination of medical, psychological, and behavioral interventions. The specific approach may vary based on the individual’s needs and the severity of their addiction. 

It usually begins with a comprehensive assessment to help healthcare professionals develop a personalized care plan based on the individual’s needs. Then, the next step is often medically supervised detoxification to safely manage withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts to the abstinence from methadone.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using other opioid replacement medications may be used as part of detox and addiction treatment to stabilize withdrawal symptoms and cravings in individuals who are dependent on methadone while gradually tapering off the drug.

Various forms of counseling and therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), individual counseling, and group therapy, are used to help identify the underlying causes of addiction, develop coping strategies, and modify destructive behaviors.

If an individual has a co-occurring mental health disorder alongside their methadone addiction, treatment is further tailored to include addressing both conditions simultaneously. As individuals near the end of the treatment, an aftercare plan is developed to further help reduce the risk of relapse and ensure continued abstinence from methadone. 

Start Methadone Detox and Addiction Recovery in Nashville, TN

When you are struggling with methadone abuse and addiction, help is available at Detox Nashville. We offer comprehensive, medically supervised methadone detox and addiction treatment programs customized to your specific needs. Additionally, we provide a supportive, caring, and safe environment where you can begin your recovery journey.

Don’t wait another day to realize a brighter future free from methadone by contacting us now. 

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