Symptoms of Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms of methadone addiction show similarities that of other opiates like heroin and morphine. Some of the symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pains
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach cramps
The symptoms may look like simple but the experience can still be uncomfortable and painful. Also, if methadone users consume multiple illegal substances, the withdrawal process may take longer and more severe.
Most users fear to quit the “cold turkey” because of intense withdrawal symptoms. Medical practitioners often prescribe tapering off methadone to gradually remove the drug from the body. This will make the withdrawal process more bearable for the user.
Duration of Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms of methadone usually surface within 24 hours from the last dose. Depending on the severity of the addiction, it can take from 15 hours to 60 hours before the body flushes out methadone completely. For chronic cases, it takes several days before withdrawal starts.
The Withdrawal Process
The withdrawal process typically lasts three to six weeks except for users with severe addiction. The first week until the 10th day of withdrawal remains as the worst experience for users. But over the next several weeks, withdrawal symptoms will eventually fade.
Knowing what to expect during withdrawal symptoms will help users prepare for the worst. Understanding how methadone affects the body makes it easier for users to seek appropriate help.
Here is a quick look at what happens during withdrawal period
The first 24 hours:
- Usually, withdrawal symptoms become apparent within the first 24 hours after the last drug intake.
- Physical symptoms appear such as:
o muscle aches
o runny nose
o rapid heartbeat
2 to 10 days
- The following days even weeks, users will experience very strong methadone cravings. Flu-like symptoms will still persist but some psychological symptoms will start to appear like:
11 to 21 days
- After a week or so, most of the physical will begin to disappear, giving way to cravings and depression to set in. Psychological symptoms will become more intense and severe giving users difficult to feel any pleasure.
22 days and over
- Most of the symptoms will disappear; if anything remains it should be very mild. However, users may still feel depressed for several weeks. The body will then re-learn to function normally without methadone.
Medications that help with methadone withdrawal symptoms
As uncomfortable as it can be, users can still take some medication to ease the discomfort. However, doctors can prescribe medications for various illnesses as they arise. Doctors often give or prescribe medications like:
- for diarrhea, loperamide (Imodium)
- for symptoms of nausea and dizziness, meclizine (Bonine), dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or Benadryl.
- muscles aches and stomach cramps can be cured with:
o acetaminophen (Tylenol)
o Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
Other medications are specifically made to ease withdrawal symptoms like:
These medications can shorten even relieve some of the withdrawal symptoms of methadone, along with the help of the best rehab clinic in your area. Also, taking these medications can ensure full recovery of a methadone addiction.
However, even if these medications are widely available as over-the-counter drugs, it is still important to follow the correct dosage. Never take the drug longer than intended or in larger doses. Since withdrawal symptoms last from few days to several weeks, it is best to purchase medications that can during this time.
Taking medication can ease the physical discomfort. But to somehow address the psychological symptoms, it is best to keep the mind occupies. Some of the activities listed below can distract the mind with:
- watching movies
- reading books
- finding an enjoyable hobby
Keep the mind occupied
Keeping the mind occupied and finding pleasant activities increases endorphins in the body. This can add up to the long-term success of the recovery program. It would also help a lot to keep comfortable as much as possible. Prepare extra blankets, sheets, clothes and even a fan because of excessive sweating.
Build a support group
Talking to family members or close friends about the treatment will provide support needed during the treatment. They can check on the progress, offer help when things go bad, and comfort users during psychological break down.
Finding support group and sharing experiences can help:
- during the low times of the withdrawal process
- provide emotional support
- help deals with relapses, a common occurrence in the withdrawal process
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