Methadone: Treatment and rehabilitation

Last modified: Monday, 1. June 2009 - 6:07 am

Getting people off methadone, referred to as methadone detoxification, is a complex process. People who are on methadone to combat their heroin addiction often decide to stop using methadone when they and their counselors have decided that they are ready to live without drugs. However, there are times when, even though the patient is not truly ready to stop methadone, they feel they must stop for a variety of reasons such as getting a new job, moving to a new area, the societal stigma of being on methadone, or an upcoming or actual prison sentence. Whatever the reason, methadone detoxification must be done carefully.
Almost all people on methadone who decide to go off of it will have withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, nausea/vomiting, and difficulty sleeping. To help minimize these effects of methadone detoxification, a gradual reduction in the dose of methadone is done over a long period of time to help the person adjust to not having methadone in their body.
For short-term detoxification, a person would decrease and stop methadone in less then a month. It should be noted that people in short-term detoxification programs have a higher likelihood of returning to heroin abuse than do people in a long-term methadone detoxification program.
In a long-term detoxification program, people on methadone may spend up to six months gradually cutting back on the amount of methadone that they use. The entire detoxification program would take four months.

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