Methadone is used for drug detoxification and treatment programs to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and to block the effects of opiate drugs. It has been used successfully for more than 40 years, and has been shown to eliminate withdrawal symptoms and relieve drug cravings from heroin and prescription opiate medications. Methadone helps people recover from addiction.

But how does Methadone work? How does it address opiate drug addiction?

Opiate Addiction

Opiate drugs cause physical dependence, which means that the individual starts relying on the drug to prevent symptoms of withdrawal. And when the individual stops taking the drugs, the body needs time to recover, and withdrawal symptoms result. Withdrawal from opiates usually include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating

Opiate Withdrawal

After heavy and prolonged use of opiate drugs, the central nervous system (CNS) becomes habituated to their chemical presence and adjusts itself. Therefore when a user develops a dependence on opiates, the brain and CNS are trying to reach balance in order to counter the depressant effects of opiates. This means that they “speed up” certain systems. So, when opiate doses are stopped or reduced there are a wide range of symptoms that occur while the body attempts to find balance again.

Methadone For Opiate Withdrawal

Methadone is the preferred drug in the treatment of opiate withdrawal. Methadone is in a class of medications called opiate analgesics. Methadone works to treat people who were addicted to opiate drugs by preventing withdrawal symptoms and lessening cravings in people who have stopped using these drugs. Specifically, methadone:

  • blocks the euphoric effects of opiates
  • blocks the sedative effects of opiates
  • does not cause euphoric high
  • relieves drug craving
  • suppresses opiate withdrawal

Methadone used for the detox and the maintenance of opiate addiction treatment is available by prescription as oral solutions (1-2 mg/mL strength), tablets (5-10 mg), dispersible tablets (40 mg), or injectable solutions (10 mg/mL). However, regulatory restrictions concerning the use of methadone for the maintenance or detoxification of opiate addiction require that practitioners be registered with the DEA as a Narcotic Treatment Program (NTP).


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