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Article Summary

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms and Support

Methadone is a synthetic narcotic analgesic that is similar to heroin. It is mainly used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain conditions and as a maintenance anti-addictive and reductive preparation for people suffering from opioid dependency. However, the drug itself can be addictive, causing individuals to experience methadone withdrawal symptoms after completion of the therapy.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms:

When Methadone is stopped abruptly, users have the potential to experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms occur because the human body become accustomed to Methadone over time. The human body becomes dependent on Methadone for a normal feeling, which usually disappears with stopping it. Since the human body takes so long to be free from these symptoms, the risk of relapsing in to Methadone use is very high. These withdrawal symptoms may last for five to six weeks. Withdrawal symptoms following Methadone use can be unpleasant, but not life threatening.

Following Methadone addiction, there are a number of primary withdrawal symptoms. While not every individual will suffer from all the symptoms mentioned below, certain symptoms are not common while giving up Methadone.

The withdrawal symptoms following methadone addiction include

a. Gastrointestinal symptoms:

Narcotic drugs tend to inhibit the muscle contractions in the gut. It is known to interact with the opioid receptors found in the enteric nervous system of the gut. The gut contains neurons like the spinal cord, as explained in "Molecular Neuropharmacology". These neurons tend to control the speed at which the materials pass through it. Since, opioids inhibit bowel motility, withdrawal effects from Methadone causes increased gastrointestinal motility, which may result in loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting, as well as abdominal cramps and pain.

b. Emotional-psychological symptoms:

Overcoming Methadone addiction is a very difficult task, emotionally and physically. In addition, the withdrawal symptoms experienced at the time of drug detox process can increase psychological symptoms. Some psychological symptoms that recovering dependents commonly feel include depression, irritability, agitation, restlessness, and anxiety.

Withdrawal from Methadone induces a state of anxiety or restlessness, due to the increase in the levels of a substance called CRF (Corticotrophin releasing factor). This endogenous neuropeptide is often associated with emotional anxiety.

c. Autonomic nervous system symptoms:

Methadone is known to dull the activity of autonomic nervous system, explains "Essential Pharmacology". Autonomic nervous system is responsible for the body's "fight" or "flight" mechanism in response to certain stress or threats. Methadone addiction leads to drug tolerance, wherea the autonomous nervous system adapts to the presence of an addiction forming substance which it thinks normal. Due to this, during Methadone withdrawal, the nervous system become hyper-active, resulting in symptoms like goosebumbs, dilated pupils, racing heart, insomnia, yawning, runny nose, and watery eye, according to Medline Plus.

d. Other symptoms:

Muscle pain is another withdrawal symptom often associated with Methadone. According to "The Clinical Manual of Addiction Pharmacology", opiates are analgesics that tend to reduce pain by inhibiting the release of certain neurotransmitters that transmit pain signals to the brain. Methadone withdrawal can create muscle aches due to the sudden hyperactivity in this pathway.

How long is Methadone withdrawal?

Methadone is known to stay in the body for a long period of time and can case withdrawals symptoms for several months. The initial symptoms of withdrawal appear two to three days following the last Methadone dose and usually last for five to six weeks.

How to help with Methadone withdrawal:

Methadone is highly addictive and has extremely painful withdrawal symptoms. For addicted individuals who wanted to withdraw from methadone, there are several things to do, which includes

a. Getting familiarized with the withdrawal symptoms in very important, especially when the process is thought to be undergone at home. Many of these symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications or traditional remedies, which can reduce the discomfort of withdrawal.

b. Getting enrolled in a drug addict support group run by a former drug abuser or a health care professional. They provide valuable emotional support for the addicts that make them easy to quit Methadone addiction.

c. Professional help during withdrawal is very important. Since, Methadone has the longest and the most uncomfortable withdrawal effects, professional help is a must. Doctors may administer drugs to ease out this process and are well prepared to deal with any complications that arise during the withdrawal process.

d. Make distance from other drug abusers, who can be a real detrimental in the withdrawal process.

e. Continued medical treatment even after completely drug free is also very important. Continuous support and reinforcement becomes part because Methadone users experience occasional cravings for the rest of their lives.

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