Another benefit of methadone detoxification is that it replaces
the withdrawal symptoms of heroin or morphine with the withdrawal
symptoms of methadone.
The withdrawal symptoms of methadone are much
less severe and easier for patients to handle.
Methadone detoxification began being used in the 1960’s and is now used
in the United States, Hong Kong, Thailand and Sweden. A major benefit
of methadone detoxification is that it is most often administered
orally. This helps addicts break away from using needle injections,
which most often lead to getting serious diseases such as HIV.
Methadone does have side effects. These side effects include:
drowsiness, lightheadedness, euphoria, weakness, slow or troubled
breathing, and dry mouth. Many of these side effects, especially the
euphoria are the things that addicts are looking for when using drugs.
This has led to some addicts using methadone when they cannot get other
drugs. An increase in methadone overdoses during the 1990’s indicated
that this was becoming a problem so another drug was approved. This
drug is known as buprenorphine. Buprenorphine works well as a treatment
because in low doses it helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings,
but in high doses cause withdrawal symptoms. This attribute reduces the
risk of addicts abusing buprenorphine. There is also another drug,
Levomethadyl acetate (LAAM), which is similar to methadone and is used
to help addicts become less dependent on drugs.
Studies indicate that methadone detoxification can be very successful,
but the key is that patients also need to be a part of other substance
abuse treatment programs, such as counseling, mental health
evaluations, and support groups. With methadone providing decreased
cravings and the other programs addressing psychological dependence,
the patient has a higher chance of becoming drug free.