There are many substances to which a person can become addicted. In fact, there are even a number of behaviors that are addictive and potentially harmful as well, including food addiction and sex addiction. However, more often than not when one speaks of addiction, he or she is referring to alcoholism or drug addiction, which are the most common and worst kinds of addiction by a significant margin.
The reasons that chemical addictions are widely held to be so much worse than behavioral addictions includes the tendency for an individual’s addiction to have a far greater effect on more of his or her loved ones than other forms of addiction. Moreover, an addict experiences profound mental, physical, social, and even spiritual deterioration as a direct result of having become addicted to alcohol or drugs, making the disease as complex as it is dangerous.
Being such a complex disease, addiction is complicated to treat. In order to overcome addiction, an individual must pursue an avenue of recovery that best addresses his or her specific needs. In many cases, this involves completing an addiction treatment program at an alcohol or drug rehab, during which time one receives psychotherapy and counseling, participates in various group and educational sessions, and learns how to cope with stress as well as a number of other important life skills that serve to fortify one’s sobriety.
Alternately, many individuals have found success by working the Twelve Steps and attending twelve-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. There are also a number of individuals who have achieved lasting recovery in replacement therapy and methadone maintenance programs.
What Exactly is Methadone Used For?
While it’s true that addiction recovery is meant to be a process that frees individuals from chemical dependence, there are actually forms of treatment that involve substituting one’s substance of choice — particularly opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers — for a pharmaceutical substance that’s administered under the close watch of physicians and nurses. The most common form of replacement therapy involves the use of methadone as the replacement drug. Methadone is a substance that’s explicitly intended for use in replacement therapist, a synthetic acyclic analog of morphine and heroin that acts on the opiate receptors in the brain.
However, the drug is effective as an opioid replacement drug because it doesn’t offer the euphoria that drug users expect from opioids and has an exceptionally long half-life, allowing individuals to dose less frequently while still avoiding withdrawals. Rather than ceasing one’s drug intake immediately and abruptly, methadone replacement allows individuals to replace heroin or painkillers with a substance that won’t make them intoxicated; the methadone will prevent individuals from experiencing withdrawals while sober.
In fact, methadone can reportedly prevent an opioid addict from experiencing withdrawals for between 24 and 36 hours after the time of dosing. The drug is known for significantly reducing cravings for heroin and opiates. Typically, this type of treatment requires an individual to visit a special facility — often referred to as a methadone clinic — once each day in the morning in order to receive a methadone dose, which will last them through the day and night until dosing again the next morning.
While it’s possible to remain in a methadone maintenance program for months or even years, a number of individuals use methadone as a stepping stone by slowly tapering down until they are free from both illicit drugs and methadone. Although it’s somewhat controversial, methadone has been hailed as been an accessible and less intimidating form of treatment while also being effective for harm reduction, particularly preventing individuals from contracting blood-borne illnesses from other drug users.
The Danger of Combining Methadone with Other Substances
Despite being beneficial when used in replacement therapies, methadone can also be dangerous. As a synthetic opioid, methadone would inevitably have a high abuse potential. When taken in doses that are in excess of what could be considered therapeutic, individuals can become intoxicated.
Moreover, methadone is known to be especially dangerous when combined with other substances, which substance abusers frequently do as layering one’s mind-altering substances can cause the substances to amplify the effects of one another and result in a more intense intoxication. For instance, it’s common for individuals to combine methadone with alcohol, marijuana, and even benzodiazepines; the latter is considered even more dangerous than other combinations.
Methadone & Xanax: A Potentially Fatal Combination
Of the many benzodiazepines that exist, Xanax is surely one of the most well-known and, according to a report, is the most-prescribed psychotropic medication in the United States. Although technically called alprazolam, Xanax is the recognizable trade name for the drug, which produces a calming or relaxing effect on the brain as is characteristic of benzodiazepines.
The drug is also well-known for being a moderate to strong and fast-acting medication with a relatively short half-life, making it popular among substance abusers. Additionally, it’s also been frequently combined with methadone to devastating effect. The risk comes from the way that both drugs work. The effects of methadone are typically mild and may take a while before an individual begins to feel an effect although the drug is still active in the body; meanwhile, Xanax is a strong and fast-acting sedative with dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Taking too much of either drug can cause individuals to have trouble remaining conscious in addition to respiratory depression. As such, the combination of methadone and Xanax are considered to be responsible for a high percentage of opioid-related deaths.
The Palm Beach Institute is Here to Help You Get Your Life Back
Although the disease of addiction is progressive and incurable, no addict has to continue to live in the throes of active substance abuse. There are numerous recovery options available for those in need. If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation and assessment with one of our caring recovery specialists, call the Palm Beach Institute at 1-855-534-3574 or contact us online. We are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, ready and able to help you or your loved one begin the healing journey to a life of lasting health and happiness.