Methadone was first used commercially in 1947. Once introduced as a means to help those who were addicted to heroin, doctors quickly realized the risks of dependency which methadone carried. While the prescription alleviates heroin withdrawal discomforts and some of the cravings, this relief comes at the cost of a methadone dependency which can rapidly establish itself.
In later years, subutex and suboxone were developed for the same purpose of treating opiate dependency, but again each of these drugs came with their own set of potentially adverse health effects. Take the time to understand the risks associated with methadone, suboxone and subutex before starting on this kind of an addiction treatment path.
Is Methadone Addictive?
Methadone is one of the most common prescription opioid drugs used in the treatment of heroin addiction. Although many doctors prescribe this drug because it is evaluated that the benefits outweigh the potential risks, many of those who are prescribed methadone for their opiate dependency end up addicted to methadone. Methadone abuse and addiction causes about 5,000 deaths in America each year.
Some of the health risks and adverse reactions linked to methadone are:
- Severe mood swings
- Irregular heart beat
Understanding Suboxone and Subutex
Suboxone and subutex are much more recent prescription drug developments, having both received FDA approval in 2002. Both of these drugs contain buprenorphine. This drug is an opiate, but the effects are much less powerful than those of the more commonly abused opiate drugs. This makes the chances of a suboxone or subutex addiction less likely than methadone or OxyContin, but does not negate them entirely.
Although suboxone contains additional components to discourage its abuse by intravenous injection, both of these drugs serve the same purpose as methadone. These prescriptions are used in conjunction with other rehabilitative strategies in a style of treatment called substitute drug therapy. Not all professionals agree with this style of drug rehab as a long-term solution, as the opiate dependency is not “cured,” but rather is replaced by a prescription pill.
While suboxone and subutex may offer relief from heroin withdrawal symptoms, these drugs themselves can form dependencies and cause withdrawal symptoms of their own.
Where possible, these prescriptions are occasionally crushed and snorted. This occurrence indicates their insufficiency as a sole mode of treatment. Rather, they seem to encourage the addict to continue to live a dependent life. Additional side effects associated with these drugs include:
- Dizzy spells
Long-Term Drug Rehab for Opiate Abuse
Methadone, subutex, and suboxone may be medically necessary for a short-term medical detox phase or to alleviate discomforts over a finite period of time. These medications are not recommendable for long-term use or as a replacement for comprehensive, long-term opiate addiction treatment. It is throughout the course of a treatment program than an opiate addict will regain independence, life skills and tools for a healthy, happy life.
Opiate addiction is a specialized field of treatment which requires an in-depth look into the various aspects of the dependency–including its underlying issues, formation and continuance. Long-term programs ranging in length from 3-6 months or more have produced successful results in those severely addicted heroin, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.
Methadone Deaths Rising in The U.S.
Methadone use has increased in pain management and drug replacement therapy for addicts despite hundreds of people dying each year from black market use.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network reported that more than 10,000 people turned up in emergency rooms after having abused methadone in 2001, which is double the number from just two years earlier.
Reported deaths from methadone abuse are rising in North Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, Montana and Nevada while it has become the deadliest drug in Oregon according to state medical examiners. Meanwhile, profits for the drug’s manufacturer and dispensers have increased dramatically as well.
Methadone was developed by German chemists as a painkiller during World War II and has been widely used as drug replacement therapy to get addicts off heroin and other opiates. There are currently more than 1,200 facilities that dispense methadone to addicts, totaling approximately 200,000 patients. While methadone may not produce the same high as heroin or Oxycontin, it is more physically addictive and more difficult to withdraw from.
The Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Studies (DATOS) issued a report on a multi-city study of status of patients before and after various types of treatment, including outpatient methadone treatment. Results of this study that was done in the 90’s show that there was actually a slight increase in heavy alcohol use and only a minimal decrease in the percentage of patients not being employed full-time and suicidal ideation.
Perhaps the most obviously overlooked flaw in this type of treatment is that the patients are still on drugs, and this cannot be considered rehabilitation.
According to J.J., a 30 year-old former heroin addict from Michigan, “I was on methadone for 5 years and it was much harder to get off than the heroin. You can’t skip a day going to the [methadone] clinic or you immediately get really sick. It’s a trap either way.”
He has since become drug-free through the Narconon Arrowhead program, which consists of a uniquely effective withdrawal phase, confront and communication exercises, a dry heat sauna detoxification program that rids the body of physical drug cravings and a series of life skills courses to not only fully rehabilitate individuals but also to prepare them for life after drugs.
This comprehensive treatment approach was researched and developed by American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard and this drug-free methodology is the reason for Narconon Arrowhead’s high rate for successful recovery.