Methadone has some severe physical consequences on the body, including addiction. Although it’s a drug that doctors typically prescribe to help addicts overcome opioid addictions, methadone can become addicting in its own right, causing the body to build tolerance to it and crave it even more. Fortunately, with the right tools, you can beat a methadone addiction and get on the path to long-term recovery.
Set Up a Winning Support Network
The first step you should take before you begin the process of recovery from a methadone addiction is find a supportive team of people who will be there to help you along the way. This should include not only your medical team of your doctor and therapist, but also close friends and relatives who will emotionally support you during the process.
Support during your methadone detox is crucial to your short-term and long-term recovery. You should speak with your doctor and a therapist before beginning the process to learn more about what to expect and in what ways they can help you during it. Also, have loved ones lined up to call if you ever need extra support, physically or mentally.
Understand the Withdrawal Process
The withdrawal process from methadone is intense. It’s important to know the common stages you can expect to go through so that you’re prepared for the inevitable process.
You’ll likely experience intense symptoms within the first 24 hours after stopping methadone. The earliest symptoms of withdrawal include insomnia, extreme fatigue, heat flashes and sweating, anxiety, shaking or muscle spasms, and a runny nose.
The symptoms will likely be at their worst for the first two weeks after stopping methadone use. You may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping during this time. Some people continue to experience symptoms for months after stopping – most commonly, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.
Do It Slowly
Most experts do not recommend stopping methadone use abruptly, or on your own. If you do decide that you need to stop without any other drug to help taper you off, or without taking lower doses of methadone until you can stop, you need to ensure that you only do so under close observation from your medical team. Talk to your doctor to decide if this is the right choice for you.
In most cases, doctors will suggest that you enter an inpatient program that weans you off the drug under medical supervision and following a certain timeframe that tends to lead to more long-term success. A medical detox within a controlled setting can reduce the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms and help medical professionals monitor you for any adverse symptoms to make the process as comfortable as possible for you.
Taper with Suboxone or Other Drugs
Your doctor may also suggest that, to better your chances of overcoming your addiction, you work through it by tapering off your use of methadone. What this means is that you’ll gradually decrease your dosages under the supervision of your doctor. You’ll remove yourself from the drug in small amounts, decreasing the severity of withdrawal symptoms and making your body more prepared to stop.
Some doctors prescribe other drugs, like suboxone, while people taper off. Suboxone is a drug that can reduce withdrawal symptoms and can be started about three days after your last dose of methadone. But, it’s important to note that suboxone can also become addictive for some.
Focus on Your Health
Once you’ve passed the initial part of your withdrawal from methadone and you start to feel more like yourself, you should start focusing on your health. One of the best ways to do that is to begin a workout schedule. Exercise can be great for both the mind and body, allowing you to work through your symptoms and move past your addiction for good.
One of the ways exercise helps those in recovery from addiction is by removing excess drugs from your system via perspiration. You may find that you move past withdrawal easier and faster if your exercise throughout the initial detox phase. Exercise also can help manage stress and anxiety symptoms related to your recovery. In conjunction with a trustworthy therapist and support team, a healthy exercise regimen can be just what you need to stay off methadone long-term.