The truth about methadone

Drug use is a national epidemic that has been upon us, the United States, for many years. Year after year, our country spends billions of dollars jailing those who have problems with drug dependency. If we would spend half the money and resources on rehabilitation, we wouldn’t have spend 1 trillion dollars since 1971 on the war on drugs or jailed over 1 million American citizens for drug offenses.

Methadone clinics were one of the best things that have been done to actually start to resolve this drug epidemic; but even with all the effort put into recovery, those active in methadone maintenance are still put down and called addicts for seeking help.

Methadone is in fact a narcotic medication used to assist those dependent on narcotics (heroin, morphine, OxyContin, dilaudid, Opana and others. Methadone is dispensed by certified nurses daily until clients can build trust and abstain from illicit drug use.

Methadone doses vary by person. Due to it’s range of metabolization, one person could be symptom free at 50mg, while another person needs 150mg to deter all withdrawal symptoms. Once the client is at a “stable dose”,  methadone begins blocking other opiate/opioid medication from being effective. At this point, the client is no longer having withdrawal symptoms and is unable to use their drug of choice (DOC) to get high any more.

Although methadone is a full agonist narcotic, the body builds a tolerance to it within a week. When starting a methadone program, a client may have side effects like slight euphoria and drowsiness. The public claims that those who are active in methadone therapy are just getting a free high provided by a crooked doctor, though in reality, methadone is not even chemically similar to heroin or other opiates that are abused.

Commonly, doctors start patients off at a dose of about 30mg of methadone, which is enough to kill a person who is non-tolerant to opiates. Like I mentioned before, the body quickly becomes tolerant to the drug, and increases in dosages are needed until the patient gets to a level of comfort. This is a long and tough process as the person will experience withdrawal until they reach the amount of medication needed to function. Due to state regulations, patients can only increase doses in 2-5mg every 3 days. At this rate, a person may be fine at this dose, or they may be struggling to not use illicit drugs.

Until the stable dose is reached, it is not uncommon for people to still require drugs from the street, which proves that people do not go to methadone clinics to get high.

Addiction is a vicious cycle and is very hard to break free from. Along with being dosed daily by a nurse, persons in MMT also have to attend 2.5 hours of counseling related to their problems with dependency. On top of struggling daily with life’s issues, those seeking help for addiction are criticized from many angles including the legal system, family, general public and the world of employment.

Methadone is not a free ride. Maybe if half the people in this country would be supportive instead of offensive, we would be able to assist those with drug dependency issues. People do not just wake up one day and decide that they want to be drug addicts, it’s the last thing on your mind. Once the drug pulls you in, it is not as easy as people think to just walk away.

People sit and point the finger at those who need drugs to live their lives, in reality, we are a bunch of hipocrits. The United States is the largest prescription drug consumer in the world, we wake up and drink pots and pots of coffee, then we light up our cigarettes and pretend to live a normal life.

What is the difference between a person addicted to nicotine and a person addicted to heroin? The person addicted to nicotine does not have to break the law to get their fix. If tobacco was illegal, smokers would be junkies as well.

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