it will save your life--read all about it!
Methadone has got to be one of the most misunderstood drugs out there. I have done SO MUCH research and reading on it...I suggest that you do the same; because I even misunderstood it when I started at my clinic as a last resort. I've done about 3 years worth of research now, and still keep learning more everyday. I have very strong opinions on methadone. It should not be used by everyone. If you have not been an opiate addict for a very long time, and have not exhausted trying to get off the stuff other ways; then you need to try that first. Basically, what opiates do to your body can be permanent. The length of time it takes to do permanent brain damage is different for everyone. But basically what happens with long enough opiate use is that you damage your brain...you break the part that creates endorphins. EVERYONE needs endorphins to feel ok and function normally. Any addict will take awhile to build back up endorphins an feel normal again; but for many opiate addicts (like myself), I would NEVER feel normal again. I would function better as an addict than when I was clean. When I would get clean, I would want to kill myself; feel awful all the time, and not function. (and actually studies have been done that show that most opiate addicts actually have deficiencies in their production of endorphins BEFORE becoming addicts. That is why for me, the first time I did heroin I felt "normal for the first time".)Methadone is a LONG term treatment...it does NOT work to just get on Methadone for a few months and then detox. That is NOT the point of MMT (methadone maintainance treatment). Think of it like this...people that are diabetic or bipolar; can function perfectly normal when they are on the right medication. A diabetic on insulin, or a bipolar person on lithium; function so normally that most people would never know that they were "sick". Now, take that medication away, and they will show signs of their illness again. That is what MMT is. I have been on a low dose of methadone for 3 years now. Methadone is NOT dangerous or harmful to the body when taken correctly; MANY studies have been done...and it is safe. Of coarse, I would LOVE to live without having to take it; BUT if I were to stop, I would risk relapse...think of it like this; methadone is LEGAL, cheaper, SAFER, and effective! Everytime that you use, you are putting yourself in danger in SO MANY ways!!! You can catch a disease, it is bad for your health, you risk going to jail, you risk getting robbed/killed buying heroin/drugs, and the lifestyle makes it hard to be a functioning member of society. You know that EVERY risk i just listed associated with using illegal drugs is TRUE! Now, imagine that by taking a few pills each day would make all of those risks go away...wouldn't you do it??? Methadone does NOT get you high! When taken properly under correct supervision, it does NOT get you high...it ONLY prevents withdrawl symptoms...when taking methadone correctly, you will feel normal; not sick, and not high--just normal! Methadone is a long acting opiate; this means that you do NOT get high off of it; it stays in your system for 24 hours, so you do not have to interupt your day every hour to get a fix...you take a few pills in the morning, and go about your day like every other normal person does. No more chasing a fix, trying to find a place to get your fix, trying to find money to buy more drugs, trying to find a vein, trying to avoid getting caught, etc. ALL the bad life experiences associated with using are GONE! When I first entered the clinic, I did go thru a period of a few months where I was depressed that I didn't get to feel high anymore; but that feeling passed. I knew that methadone was my last resort, and I was NOT going to mess that up! I knew that if I got high even ONE TIME after entering treatment, that I would ruin my last and only hope! I proudly say that I have NOT used AT ALL since entering treatment. Methadone actually is a synthetic opiate; meaning that it attaches to the same reseptors in your brain as opiates do (thus you do not feel withdrawl); since those reseptors are taken up by the methadone, they are blocked...meaning that if you did use opiates, you would NOT feel their effect! This helps knowing that even if you did use, you wouldn't feel it...it takes away the temptation. When you enter a clinic; only half of the treatment is actual methadone, the other half of the treatment is counceling, etc. so that you can change your life. Being an addict is MUCH more complex than JUST using drugs...it is a way of life! Trying to stop cold turkey is nearly impossible because you are trying to completely overhaul your life while feeling dope sick...that is too much for most people to handle all at once!!! Clinic life is VERY structured at first; I actually LIKED this...I NEEDED IT AT FIRST! You must go in EVERY day by 9 am to dose (they watch you dose); and you have to take a drug test every 5 days...on top of this you meet with your councelor about every day (to check in, set goals, write in a journal, read information, etc.), and once a week you have a group meeting. Slowly, you earn priveleges...you get take homes one at a time(and that first day that you actually get to sleep-in and not check in at the clinic early in the morning, after having 90 DAYS of not getting to, feels SO GREAT!), you earn one more takehome after each 90 days clean; and you start cutting back on your counceling sessions, and eventually go to less groups also. I have been clean since August of 2003; and I am VERY PROUD to say that I have 3 weeks worth of take homes and only have to go to one group a month! I am MORE proud of this accomplishment, than I am of graduating or getting a full scholarship to college! Now some people probably see me as a failure because I have not gotten off of the methadone. I may detox one day; but right now I don't see the need to. The way I see it is that what I am doing is working, so why would I change what works? My life completely changed once I didn't have to deal with the addicts life style anymore. I don't have to worry about getting my drugs, finding money to get drugs, or worry about getting caught/arrested! My life started to change within days of going to the clinic. After 30 days, I had saved enough $ to buy a car (nothing special, but still a car!), after 3 months clean I got engaged to be married, after 6 months clean I had savede enough to pay off my old debts, after 8 months clean my fiance (now husband) and I bought our first house, after 10 months clean I sold my car and bought a nicer one, after 12 months clean I finally built up enough trust again that my family and friends would talk to me and have a good relationship with me again, after 15 months clean I got married, after 1 1/2 years clean we sold our first house and bought a bigger one, after 2 years clean I was able to take in my younger sister/take over parental gaurdianship and help her get clean, and after 2 years and 4 months clean I got my dream job! My life has been filled with SO MANY great things now that I don't have to live the life of an addict! Sure, some days are harder than others, bad things still happen from time to time that make me think about getting high...but the point is that when I have days like this I DO NOT get high!!! THe methadone makes it so that I can function normally. I tried SO MANY things to get clean, but NOTHING worked long term! It was honestly torture everyday being clean!!! I had even been clean for 6 months at one point and STILL never felt normal a single day of my clean time. I felt so trapped!!! I hated my life as an addict and wanted to be clean; but hated my life more when I was clean...I was worried that there was no hope for me, that I was doomed to a life of unhappiness. Thank GOD I found methadone!!! Now, this is just my story; everyone is different. I know that I still haven't really answered your question about detoxing off methadone. First let me say that most people that say bad things about methadone did NOT work the program as they should have! A lot of people can not handle the structure of the program and constantly fight the process...they enter the program because they think it is the easy way out, and then are disappointed to realize that they actually have to do some work! That doesn't even make sense to me because we all got ourselves into this mess; we took pleasure in getting high, and now we have to do the WORK to get back to how we should be living! Alot of people continue to use other drugs or alcohal when in the program; this makes it ineffective...you must be committed to being 100% CLEAN! Alot of people end up getting kicked out (which if you do not follow the rules they will kick you out very fast) and then they go around talking s**t about methadone treatment...this gives it a bad name unfairly. Then alot of people make the mistake of being on methadone treatment for a few months and stopping...after a few months you do start to feel normal, and you start to feel overconfident; these people will go against medical advice and choose to detox too quickly because at first they do not feel the withdrawl...but then it will hit them all of a sudden, and disaster happens; they relapse...then it's back to square one! UNfortunately the other thing that can give MMT a bad name is bad clinics--some clinics are NOT to the standards they should be (just like every other service, some people just don't have high enough standards); some clinics are mainly interested in the money and do not offer the care they should. My advice for this is to keep looking until you find a good clinic. IF this means you have to move to be near one; DO IT...afterall we are talking about your life here...you should do WHATEVER it takes to save your life! There are many people that DO detox off of methadone, and continue to live clean...however there are many more success stories of people that have been on methadone for MANY years and live long happy lives. (It has even recenlty been proven that you can safely be pregnant, deliver, and breast feed while on methadone!) I have learned from all of my research that the recommended length of time to be on methadone, before attempting to taper off it, is one year. This gives you enough time to make all the necessary life changes (changed habbits, new friends/support system, job, house, car, etc.) so that you are VERY stable and well adjusted to your new way of living life so that you CAN deal with the actual withdrawl without relapse. Now, to answer your question...is the withdrawl from methadone worse than off opiates/heroin/morphine/etc.? This depends. The actual withdrawl is NOT worse...everything that I have read and heard has told me that the actual symptoms are LESS severe from methadone; however they last LONGER! It is different for everyone...it's personal prefernce (if you can call it a preference!). Some people would prefer to just be REALLY sick, have it hit hard, and be done with it fast...but some prefer to have weaker symptoms that are easier to deal with and can put up with feeling bad (but not awful) for longer. HOWEVER, IF methadone detox is done CORRECTLY, you should NOT FEEL much withdrawl AT ALL!!! They say that the actual withdrawl from methadone (when done correctly)is NOT the hard part...it is staying clean afterwards if you are one of those people that have permanently damaged your brain! The catch is that you do NOT know if you have damaged your brain until you have detoxed! It's just a gamble that you decide whether or not to take...that is why so far for me, I have not felt the need to take that risk...my life is good right now, and I don't see any reason to get off methadone because it works--why would I take that risk or relapse??? A CORRECT methadone detox can take a very long time (that is why most people do NOT do it correctly...they are impatient). For example, I am on 40 mgs. a day of methadone. (this is considered a low dose) You want the number of mgs. to decrease by percentage of total dose...which means that if you are on 100 mgs. a day, you could drop your dose by 5 mgs. and not even feel it (because it would only be 5% of your total dose you are dropping); where as if I were to drop 5 mgs. a day I WOULD feel it (because I would have dropped 1/8 of my total dose which is a higher percentage drop). They suggest that you do a "blind detox" meaning that they secretly drop your dose without you knowing, so that you eliminate that mental aspect of making things worse in your own mind. To detox from 40 mgs. you would start by dropping by 2 mgs.; you would continue to take your new dose of 38 mgs. for about 2 weeks or longer if you are not feeling totally comfortable (you want to wait until your body has completely adjusted to the lower does before dropping more. This is the BIGGEST difference between short acting opiates/heroin/morphine/oxycontin/etc. and long acting opiates/methadone...with short acting opiates your tolerance is ALWAYS increasing--it takes more and more to get you high and more and more to just keep you from getting sick; the amount needed is always increasing! Where as with methadone, you do NOT have an increasing tolerance.) You would continue to detox at this rate of 2 mgs. every 2 weeks (or until comfortable) for a while until it gets too difficult to decrease by 2 mgs. at a time. At this time you would then start to drop by only 1 mg. every 2 weeks (or until comfortable). When your dose starts to get really low (under 10 mgs. per day) you would drop at mabye 1 mg. every 3 weeks and so on from here. You many end up taking many weeks just to get from 5 mgs. to nothing.
Ok, I hope what I worte has helped you some! Please let me know if you have ANY other questions...I will gladly answer then. Methadone saved my life; and I know it will save many more!!! I suggest you do research for yourself. You can request books (for free) from SAMSAHCSAT or CARF...basically the government departments for medication based drug rehab, have put out many books on the subject that they will send you for free. Also, a group called DONT, and another called ARM, are great sources for info!