How to get off of Methadone Naturally and beat the Withdrawals
More than two million Americans have abused an opiate at least once during their lifetime. Opiates are commonly prescribed to relieve chronic pain and, as a result, have become one of the most prescribed types of medicine over the years. Methadone is one of the many opiates that have high addiction rates and considerably long tapering periods when detoxifying. If you are addicted to methadone, you probably got your prescription to help with acute pain or as part of an opiate maintenance program. However, even after your pain is long gone, you may still find yourself taking the drugs to keep up with everyday activities.
Methadone, like other addictive opiates, contains a chemical that substitutes the body’s natural endorphins on receptor sites on nerves in your brain. With continuous use, the body completely shuts down the natural process of producing these chemicals and depends solely on the drug to suppress pain and generally stay happy. It is from this interaction with the body that addiction grows, with methadone addiction comprising up to 25% of all substances that are abused (SAMHSA, 2013).
Getting off Methadone
If you are taking methadone to wean off other drugs such as heroin, it is advisable to plan when to start reducing your dosage as soon as you begin taking the drug. The decision to get off the drug should be made when perceived benefits from taking the drug, such as pain relief, are no longer achievable. If you are managing pain using methadone and are finding it increasingly difficult to relief the pain using the prescribed dosage, you should consider getting off the drug to prevent chronic addiction. Always remember that the longer you are on an opiate, the longer it will take you to get off it with minimal withdrawal symptoms. Another important thing to remember is that before deciding to quit, you should always be mentally prepared. Withdrawal symptoms can be nasty and without the necessary tools, it is easy to fall back into old habits.
How to Taper off Methadone Safely at Home
It is important to be prepared when tapering at home to prevent adverse withdrawal symptoms. Because many of the symptoms that accompany withdrawal normally involve loss of bodily water, it is critical to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the process. Being prepared is a critical prerequisite for quitting, especially when you are tapering at home. Tapering can be performed at home with the help of a few items that can be easily obtained online or are already available at home.
The rate of tapering off methadone will depend on how long you have been on the drug, the dosage you are on, and general body biochemistry. Before you start, it is advisable to make your own timetable to determine the rate at which you will be reducing your dose on a weekly basis. You should plan to drop at most 5mg of your methadone prescription every week until you get to 20mg. At this point, you can extend the days between subsequent doses as you prepare to stop your intake. Use this general guideline to make your own plan, taking into consideration your regular dose and the length of time you have been on methadone.
Important Items for Tapering at Home
When tapering, you should always ensure you have the following items in supply to help you through the process. These include:
- Light nutritious meals
- Sports drinks, e.g. Powerade, Gatorade, and any drinks with sugar
- Tylenol for muscle aches
- Sanitary supplies e.g. napkins, towels, toilet paper
- Imodium AD for the diarrhea
- Comfortable clothes and outfits
You should also remember to take some time off work in order to ensure you go through your taper without distractions. Maintain a good diet throughout the process, even though most times your appetite will be non-existent. Keep yourself preoccupied by watching movies, listening to music or learning a new skill like cooking or a foreign language. These will help keep you distracted from most withdrawal symptoms.
Managing Specific Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms
Once you start your methadone taper at home, the first withdrawal symptoms will typically kick in 12-20 hours after your last dose. You will most likely experience cold and hot sweats, vomiting and, diarrhea during this time, which will result in significant dehydration. These symptoms should not scare you and in case they get severe, you can always reduce the duration between each dose until the symptoms are manageable. Nevertheless, they will cause a significant amount of dehydration and, therefore, you should always drink a lot of fluids to hydrate.
Take sports drinks such as Gatorade that are full of electrolytes to stay hydrated and energized through the process. It is also important to avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee during your taper.
Body Aches and Pains
The worst stages of symptoms characteristic of withdrawal will hit you right between 24 and 72 hours after the start of your taper. For general body aches and pains, take hot baths or showers to alleviate the pain. You could also use a heating pad for specific areas of your body if the pain proves too much to manage with hot water. You could also try Tylenol or orange juice to restore normal levels of potassium.
Stomach Upset and Abdominal Pains
Drugs such as Imodium AD and Pepto Bismol are normally effective at reducing diarrhea and stomach cramping. Eating a balanced diet in small portions during the day can also help alleviate stomach upsets. Avoid spicy, greasy foods such as fast foods that can wreck your weak digestive system and deprive you of important nutrients. Incorporate fruits and vegetables in your diet to ensure you get the right amount of vitamins and minerals.
Many people going through a methadone taper will often experience agitation, depression, anxiety, and other mild psychotic behavior. While these are the hardest to beat, it is possible to overcome and control them. If possible, invite a friend or family member to stay with you during the few days when the symptoms are at their worst. Alternatively, find a distraction to take you away from your thoughts. Look for a change of scenery, discover a new hobby, watch movies, or play some video games to stay busy.
Joining a support group like your local chapter of Narcotics Anonymous is also a great way to ensure you stay mentally strong during the process. Support groups are also important to help keep you from relapsing after a successful taper.
Incorporating CalmSupport into your Tapering Routine
One of the most critical components of a successful taper includes a balanced combination of vitamins, minerals, and other elements of a good diet. CalmSupport is a withdrawal aid that provides essential vitamins that will help you get off methadone naturally and soften the withdrawals. The active vitamins contained in CalmSupport do not need to be further metabolized and are utilized quickly by the body, offering immediate effects for your body. As a plus, CalmSupport comes with a free Lifestyle Guide that provides definitive support before, during, and after the withdrawal process.
Beating methadone addiction from the comfort of your home is possible. With the right physical, mental, and social support, you can be assured of a stable, functional, addiction-free life ahead.