Methadone Treatment Alternatives

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After years of chronic opiate abuse, people in recovery often have a difficult time following through on the desire to stay well. While addiction in most any form can be difficult to overcome, long-term opiate use can leave the brain in a state of chemical dysfunction for months or years after a person stops using.

Methadone, a long-standing treatment for chronic opiate addiction, works well at helping to stabilize damaged brain functions, according to the Center for Health Information & Analysis. Albeit so, methadone does have its drawbacks. In cases where methadone proves ineffective or harmful, methadone treatment alternatives work to improve upon some of the negative effects associated with methadone treatment.

Methadone Pros & Cons

Methadone treatment has the longest history as far as opiate addiction treatment medications go with ample research and practical application to back it up. As a treatment drug, methadone delivers up to 24 hours of relief from withdrawal and drug craving effects, which goes a long way towards helping recovering addicts maintain ongoing abstinence.

Methadone treatment drawbacks have to do with the drug’s mechanism of action. In effect, methadone works like other addictive opiates, stimulating the release of neurotransmitter chemicals, only methadone doesn’t produce “high” effects. That being said, a person can still use other addictive opiates while on methadone treatment. Methadone treatment also requires patients to frequent designated clinics on a daily basis, which can wear away at a person’s self-esteem considering the social stigma attached to methadone clinics. You can learn more about methadone treatment by calling (800) 407-7195.

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Methadone Treatment Alternatives

Subutex

Subutex, one of two brand names for buprenorphine, produces similar effects to methadone treatment though Subutex has a built-in ceiling effect that prevents users from abusing the drug, which is possible with methadone. Whereas methadone holds a Schedule II drug classification, Subutex belongs to the Schedule III class of drugs which comes with fewer government regulatory controls. As a Schedule III drug, Subutex can be administered by authorized physicians on an out-of-office basis, so patients don’t have to frequent a clinic on a daily basis.

Suboxone

Methadone Treatment Alternatives

Suboxone is an effective methadone treatment alternative.

Suboxone, the second brand name buprenorphine drug, contains two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone acts as an anti-abuse agent.

Suboxone comes in pill form and should be taken as is. Since attempts to abuse an
opiate treatment drug typically involve crushing up the pill and injecting it in solution form, naloxone’s effects come into play whenever Suboxone’s physical form is altered in this way. Naloxone’s undesirable effects manifest as withdrawal symptoms, such as agitation, sweating and anxiety.

Lofexidine

Unlike methadone treatment and buprenorphine-based agents, lofexidine acts as an alpha-2-adrenergic agonist, meaning it works with a completely different bodily system than the other two methadone alternatives. As an adrenergic drug, lofexidine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which plays a central role in the body’s fight or flight response. These effects enable the body to better handle stress. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, as an addiction treatment drug, lofexidine helps reduce the severity of withdrawal effects, particularly during the detox stage of recovery.

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Considerations

As each person’s body responds differently to the effects of long-term opiate use, some methadone treatment alternatives will likely work better for some people than others. Ultimately, the severity of a person’s addiction as well as his or her overall drug abuse history determine which methadone treatment alternative will work best. For more advice on finding the right treatment for you, call (800) 407-7195.

the Take-Away

There are a few medication alternatives to methadone for those who experience adverse reactions, or have become addicted to methadone.