What is Methadone?
Methadone is a synthetic opioid that was developed in Nazi Germany when access to genuine opioids became limited. It produces effects similar to those of heroin and morphine but is preferred by some physicians and addicts alike because its effects last longer than those of real opioids. This long-lasting effect allows physicians to treat opioid addiction by giving patients less methadone than they would need heroin, allowing for withdrawal. Ideally, opioid addicts can be withdrawn from heroin and then from methadone if any addiction has occurred.
What is the Problem with Methadone?
Since methadone has been used for decades to combat opioid addiction, many people would assume that it is perfectly safe to use. On the contrary, opioid addicts can become hooked on methadone just as easily as they became addicted to heroin or OxyContin. In fact, twice as many people die from the results of methadone addiction as from heroin addiction, and the symptoms of methadone withdrawal can be even worse to overcome than those of heroin. Another negative possibility is that addicts may take other legal and illegal drugs with methadone, having potentially fatal consequences.
What does Methadone Withdrawal Look Like?
Some who have dealt with both opioid and methadone withdrawal claim that withdrawing from methadone is more difficult than withdrawing from heroin or morphine. Insomnia and diarrhea are two symptoms of methadone withdrawal; addicts who are going through methadone withdrawal may also experience body aches and cramps. Health care professionals will likely administer a drug called Suboxone that mimics the effects of other opioids but is not as addictive as other options.
What is Suboxone?
In 2002, the combination drug Suboxone came on the market as a potentially safer option for opioid addiction than methadone. This drug combines buprenorphine and naloxone and is made to be taken under the tongue in pill form in order to avoid abuse via injection. Suboxone is generally less addictive than methadone because it does not cause people to reach the same level of euphoria as methadone, and naloxone will actually trigger withdrawal symptoms if it is abused.
What is the Problem with Suboxone?
While Suboxone is significantly more difficult to get addicted to than methadone, addiction to Suboxone is by no means impossible. The drug still contains an opioid, and opioid addicts can still develop a tolerance to Suboxone, leading to possible addiction. Another problem can occur when someone who is already addicted to morphine or heroin also becomes addicted to Suboxone, leading to a dangerous condition called poly-addiction. Overdosing on Suboxone is also easy because the drug takes one to two hours to take effect; overdosing on drugs like cocaine is also possible because Suboxone can mute the effects of cocaine and other stimulants.
What does Suboxone Withdrawal Look Like?
People who are withdrawing from Suboxone may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea; they may also experience irritability and anxiety. Cold or flu symptoms are also normal during Suboxone withdrawal, as are yawning and insomnia. These symptoms are likely to peak around two days after stopping the drug and will likely persist strongly for at least three days beyond that point. The nature of Suboxone makes it easier to detox than methadone or traditional opiates, but anyone attempting to break a Suboxone addiction should still do so with the help of a medical professional. Just as the reasons for drug addiction are diverse, so each person will have different withdrawal needs; a medical professional will be able to come up with treatment plans for each individual.