It is likely that you have heard of Methadone as a treatment for withdrawal symptoms from heroin and other opioids. It has been around a long time. Developed in Germany in the late 1930s as a painkiller, it was approved for use in the United States in 1947.
Today, Methadone is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) within a Medication-Assisted Treatment program. It is classified as a full opioid agonist; a chemical which relieves the withdrawal symptoms of discomfort and cravings, while potentiates (or increases the high from) opioids, such as heroin, oxycodone, morphine and others. It can be taken either orally or by injection. According to Courtney Potempa, PA-C, Physician Assistant for Symetria Recovery’s Lakeview Chicago facility, “Methadone Injection is generally used in pain management. For Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT), Symetria Recovery will mix a take home dose of Methadone with a flavor-aid dye so, it cannot be injected to get high”.
MTD occupies the opioid receptors, therefore relieving the withdrawal and cravings. It’s different from Buprenorphine and Naloxone (generic Suboxone) in that you must receive your dosage each day from an FDA approved recovery facility. Suboxone, which carries less of a risk of overdose, can be prescribe for use at home.
Some of the reasons a person should not take Methadone are if that person has:
- heart disease
- lung disease
- breathing irregularities
- a history of head injury, brain tumor or seizures
- liver or kidney disease
- problems urinating
- gallbladder, pancreas or thyroid problems
You should also not take Methadone if you are taking:
- other opioids
“You can develop a tolerance to Methadone,” states Potempa. “This may require a medically supervised dose increase for management of symptoms. Tolerance also increases the risk of overdose when combined with other opioids or sedatives”.
Be sure to talk with a doctor about the benefits and risks of Methadone and whether you should be taking it. When used as a part of Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT), and Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) where treatment teams can assess your customized recovery plan, best outcomes can be reached.