What is Methadone?
Methadone is a prescription medication that seems to have received more attention in recent years. According to experts writing for the Western Journal of Medicine, methadone belongs to the opiate class of drugs, and it is comparable to morphine. This prescription medication does have legitimate medical uses and is safe and effective when people use it as a doctor prescribes it, but for some people, it may become addictive and dangerous.
Medical Uses of Methadone
What is methadone used for? One of the most common uses of methadone is for the long-term treatment of addiction to opiates like heroin. Methadone is used as a maintenance medication to help people remain abstinent from heroin and other opiates. It promotes abstinence because it has long-lasting effects and stops the unpleasant symptoms of opiate withdrawal; methadone also reduces heroin cravings and stops people from feeling high if they do take heroin, per the authors writing for the Western Journal of Medicine.
Suboxone is a medication used to treat addiction to opiates like heroin, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone, and doctors prescribe it to people in addiction treatment to help alleviate opiate withdrawal and cravings.
That being said, buprenorphine itself is a partial opiate, meaning that it can create euphoria, much like heroin, although to a lesser extent. While the effects of Suboxone may not be as strong as with heroin, people still may abuse this medication and become addicted to it. After all, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), labels Suboxone as a Schedule III Controlled Substance, indicating that users can become highly psychologically dependent upon it and develop low to moderate physical dependence upon the drug.
Unfortunately, with dependence comes withdrawal, which means that people may experience uncomfortable symptoms when detoxing off of Suboxone, whether they are using it legally as a doctor prescribes or abusing it in some fashion. Learning more about Suboxone withdrawal can help you to understand this condition better.
According to Harvard Medical School, benzodiazepines are a class of medications primarily used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. They work by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter, or brain chemical, called GABA, which slows activity in the nervous system and produces a calming effect. These medications can be useful for treating anxiety and related issues, but with long-term use, people may become addicted to them and undergo withdrawal if they attempt to stop using benzodiazepines. It is critical to understand the risk of addiction and withdrawal that comes with benzodiazepine use in order to make informed choices about the best course of action for treating conditions like anxiety.
Before learning about benzodiazepine withdrawal, it is first important to understand why these drugs are addictive and lead to dependence. The reason for benzodiazepine dependence is that the brain and body adapt to the presence of these drugs, and they become accustomed to increased GABA activity. This means that over time, the body cannot produce enough GABA on its own, and it becomes dependent upon benzodiazepines to increase GABA activity and calm the body. Once the body becomes dependent on benzodiazepines, if a person stops using these drugs, there will not be enough GABA activity to maintain normal functioning. This causes the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepines.
When most people think of drug and alcohol withdrawal, they probably picture the initial withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person stops using drugs or alcohol and undergoes the detox process. While these initial withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and intense, another form of withdrawal comes later. According to the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, a second form of withdrawal, called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), includes symptoms that occur for several weeks or even months after a person stops using drugs and alcohol. Other names for this condition include post-withdrawal syndrome, prolonged withdrawal syndrome, or protracted withdrawal syndrome, and it most often occurs with alcohol, benzodiazepine, and opiate abuse.
Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may vary based upon the substance from which a person is withdrawing. According to a report in CNS Drugs, post-acute withdrawal syndrome for alcohol typically involves the following symptoms:
Benzodiazepines are a relatively common class of prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies introduced benzodiazepines to the market at the start of the 1960s as a safer alternative to a class of sedative drugs called barbiturates. Benzodiazepines do have legitimate medical uses, but they are not without side effects, and some people may abuse them.
Medical Uses of Benzodiazepines
According to Harvard Medical School, the main use of benzodiazepines is the treatment of anxiety and sleep problems. Some doctors may prescribe them to alleviate drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms or to treat muscle spasms, seizures, or tremors.
Benzodiazepines may be useful for anxiety and sleep disorders in several situations. For example, a doctor may prescribe a few benzodiazepine pills to a patient to use for occasional insomnia as needed. People who have generalized anxiety disorder may also benefit from taking benzodiazepines, and some people may use these drugs to treat temporary anxiety, such as that which occurs before boarding a plane, having a surgery, or during an agitating situation. For people with panic disorder, benzodiazepines can reduce the anxiety that triggers a panic attack.
Alcohol consumption is common in the United States. In fact, according to data reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3 percent of adults in the United States have consumed alcohol during their lives, and just over half had consumed alcohol within the previous month, as of 2018.
While drinking a glass of wine with dinner or occasionally going out for a drink can be part of a healthy lifestyle, some people may drink excessively, which can become problematic. In 2018, 26.5 percent of American adults reported binge drinking within a given month, and nearly 7 percent admitted to drinking heavily, which experts define as five or more instances of binge drinking in a month.
Binging and drinking heavily may be socially acceptable in American culture, but they are concerning from a public health standpoint. People who continuously engage in heavy drinking are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, which is the term professionals use to describe a diagnosable alcohol addiction. Such a condition can have significant consequences and requires professional intervention.