Methadone is a drug commonly used to treat addiction caused by other drugs such as hydromorphone, oxycodone and heroin. It is an opioid drug that is known by street names that include meth and juice.
Methadone is a synthetic drug manufactured by a German company. It was initially known as Dolophine and was used as a painkiller for severe pain. Although, the drug is still sporadically used as a painkiller, it is now primarily used as a treatment drug for narcotic addiction. This is because its effect lasts longer than most morphine-based drugs, which eliminates the need for regularly administration.
Methadone is also used to treat pregnant women in order to protect fetus but its use is accompanied by short-acting opioids to avoid withdrawal, which can cause miscarriage. It is also used to treat people using opioid drugs who also suffer from hepatitis C or HIV to avoid spreading infection.
Brief Methadone History
It was developed in 1939 by a Germany company and later introduced in the United States in 1947 by Eli Lilly. Its initial name Dolophine was derived from Latin words dolor and finis meaning pain and end respectively. However, the drug was later deemed dangerous and not as effective as other painkiller drugs such as Morphine.
Nevertheless, in 1960s, the drug began to be marketed as a treatment for heroin addiction. Unfortunately, Methadone creates a strong addiction that results in painful withdrawal symptoms that prompt users to continue using the drug to their detriment.
Medical and social risks to prolonged use of Methadone
Despite the side effects of methadone, a report entitled methadone-Associated Overdose death in March 2009 highlighted the growth of Methadone from 531,000 in 1998 to about 4.1 million in 2006.
Furthermore, according to CDC, methadone causes almost a third of all opioid related deaths. Of almost 4000 deaths in 2004, 82 percent of the deaths were due to accidental use and 3 percent were caused by combining methadone with other drugs, which necessitates the need to learn about methadone addiction.
The continued use of Methadone can result in dependence. Some of the symptoms that a person with dependence will exhibit include drowsiness, slowed breathing, facial flushing, urinary retention, irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures, weakness, lightheadedness and dry mouth.
Social Risks of Methadone Use
The side effects of methadone include physical, psychological and social. The physical effects include sexual impotence, gastrointestinal distress, depressed respiratory function, anaphylactic reactions and death caused by accidental overdose.
The psychological effects of methadone include insomnia, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, delusions and paranoia. The social effects include loss of interest in activities, avoidance of social activities and functions, increased stress and tension within the family and alienation from family and friends.
How to get help
It is important to note that Methadone addiction can debilitate your life quickly and thus, you should search for professional treatment programs. It is also necessary to understand that it is possible to develop complications if you stop using the drug without a professional help.
The withdrawal symptoms can take up to 5 weeks before they occur especially if you had taken large dosages of methadone and thus, you should not assume that you are not addicted if the signs fail to occur immediately you withdraw. The withdrawal treatment is a gradual long process depending on the level of dependency, and should be assisted with in an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center.