Methadone is a synthetic narcotic that has been clinically tested and widely used for the treatment of narcotic withdrawal and dependence. Methadone is considered a safe and effective alternative to heroin and opioid use.
The goal of methadone maintenance eliminate withdrawal symptoms and deter individuals from using heroin and other opiates. Opiates cause an excess of dopamine to be released in the brain creating a need to continuously use heroin or opioids to occupy opiate receptors. Methadone targets opiate receptors and reduces cravings enabling addicts to stop using opiates. By targeting the opiate receptor, methadone balances brain chemistry and effectively reduces cravings while causing a biochemical balance in the brain.
Methadone is generally taken orally once daily and suppresses narcotic withdrawal for approximately 24-36 hours. Methadone is commonly used to detox opiate addicts for its withdrawal eliminating effects.
Methadone has not proven an effective treatment for non-opioid drugs. Methadone
as a medication works by reducing the cravings that accompany opiate use and it prevents the euphoria associated with opiate use. Addicts are free from the unmanageable, obsessive, and destructive behavior seen in opiate addicts.
Methadone withdrawal is significantly slower than withdrawal from other opiates making it is possible to maintain an addict on methadone without harsh side effects. Many opiate addicts require long term methadone treatment sometimes lasting several years.
Methadone is not typically distributed by a pharmacy, but instead from a methadone clinic which has been established for the distribution of methadone. This system has been created so that the clinics can operate under close federal observation and regulation. Typically, a physician prescribes methadone and nurses administer and monitor the medication.
Regulations require that to enter a methadone maintenance program the individual must be an active opiate addict. This is generally established by urine analysis. A medical examination is also given before being accepted into a program.
A methadone maintenance program is generally not considered appropriate for people under the age of 18. It has been found that methadone alone is not as effective as methadone combined with some form of therapy or drug and alcohol counseling. If an addict is on methadone for too long they might want to seek methadone addiction treatment.