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Methadone: Medical Detox for Heroin Addiction

Methadone: Medical Detox for Heroin Addiction

by Michelle Devon

Heroin is an illegal Schedule I narcotic, placing it in the group of the most highly addictive drugs available on the streets. There are many methods of using heroine, including: snorting, smoking, swallowing or injecting. Heroin is one of the few drugs known to sometimes cause an instant physical addiction in the brain.

Withdrawing from heroin is dangerous and could potentially be lethal. It is one of the most difficult drugs from which to detox, because the side effects of withdrawal will either kill you or make you wish you were dead.

The best bet is to just never use heroin. Seems simple enough. But what if you or a loved one does become addicted to this nasty substance? The best way to kick a heroin habit is by using something known as a medical detox. This must be administered by a doctor, and typically is done by using another opiate based drug known as methadone.

A synthetic narcotic for use in treating certain withdrawal symptoms from illegal drug abuse, methadone has been well-tested and has been deemed safe for such use. Methadone used for treatment in opioid drug addiction, is most commonly known as a replacement drug for heroin and morphine, but has not shown much benefit for withdrawal from other drugs.

Heroin is considered one of the most highly addictive drugs on the street today, with withdrawal symptoms so severe that withdrawal from heroin can cause death. Methadone, when used as a replacement for the craving for heroin, can help alleviate or lessen the withdrawal symptoms. However, methadone does not produce the euphoria that heroin does, so the theory is that methadone will help stave off the cravings, without becoming psychosomatically addictive itself.

Methadone treatment is available only through a doctor’s care. The patient takes a prescribed dose, at regular intervals, as determined by the physician. Once the heroin has been removed from the patient’s system, the dose of methadone can be slowly decreased, until eventually the patient is free from both heroin and methadone. Often, this treatment may take years before a long-term heroin user can be free from heroin and methadone addiction.

The downside to using methadone as a treatment tool for drug abuse withdrawal is that methadone is now more available than ever before, and is quick becoming a recreational drug on the street, even though it does not produce a euphoric high. Methadone has also been used for treatment of chronic pain in some patients. The Federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment states that the growing trend in methadone use on the street may be related to other drugs, such as OxyContin, not being as readily available. It is believed, now that the government is really working to stamp out OxyContin abuse, many abusers of this powerful painkiller are turning to the more easily available methadone.

Again, the best thing to do is simply never use illegal narcotics and then the potential for addiction does not exist. However, if you or a loved one have a problem with heroin addiction, seeking methadone medical detox is an option you may want to discuss with your family doctor. Not all physicians are qualified to perform a medical detox from heroin, but your family doctor can refer you to those who are qualified to perform this task.

For more information on heroin, methadone, medical detox or other illegal narcotics, please check with your local Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. This agency can provide you assistance and referrals. Additionally, you can use your computer of local phone book to look up the closest drug rehabilitation and detox centers.

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