Methadone is a synthetic opioid used in the treatment of severe pain condition and also as a part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance programs. It helps reduce withdrawal symptoms in patients addicted to narcotic substances without even causing the “high” often associated with drug addiction. To get maximum benefits from Methadone treatment, the drug should be administered in the right dosage, which is often termed as therapeutic dose.
The importance of methadone dosage in treating drug addiction
Various research studies have concluded that methadone treatment often provides better outcomes in their patients when administered in high doses. It means, the therapeutic dose of methadone is likely to be found at the higher end of the dosing rather than at the lower end.
The dose of methadone that is administered to the patient should accomplish the following:
- The dose administered to the patient should not create any withdrawal symptoms.
- The dose should help manage the patient against drug cravings.
- The dose should be high enough to block all the effects of other opiate drugs.
For patients who have been addicted to opiates for a long period of time, a high dose of methadone is required to achieve the above said results.
Lower doses can cause withdrawal symptoms in patients taking it. So, if withdrawal symptoms occur in patients taking methadone, it should be consulted with the physician to increase the dose. Also, if the patients experience drug cravings when on this treatment, then it’s time to discuss with the physician to increase its dosage. It often takes higher dose to eliminate drug cravings and suppress withdrawal symptoms, so it becomes important to find the right methadone dosage for a particular patient to eliminate drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The same higher dose will also mimic the effect of other opiates, thereby helping the patient to avoid using them further.
However, taking high doses of methadone can cause certain discomfort in patients such as a feeling of euphoria, and sedation. This can create fear in some patients that are on high doses.
In general, patients begin their treatment program with a low dose of methadone. The dose administered is low enough to allow them to experience some withdrawal symptoms. This initial dose is around 30 to 40 milligrams per day for patients having significant tolerance to opiates. This low dose does not make the patient feel good.
The dosage is raised every day from there on until the patient is at a level where they no longer experience any drug cravings, withdrawal symptoms, or experience the effects of other opiates. This dose is called therapeutic dose and is usually around 60 to 120 milligrams per day, but may also increase or decrease slightly.
Once therapeutic dose is identified, the patient will stay in this dose at a considerable period of time. This helps the body to have enough medication all the time, so that the opiate receptors in the brain are always occupied. The body gets accustomed to this methadone dosage.
During the initial period of taking this medication, the patient will experience sedation or a sense of euphoria, which will fade away when the body gets accustomed to the medication over a long period of time. However, same dose should be taken every day, once therapeutic dose is identified. This is because; a patient who is taking a stable dose will not experience any sedation or euphoria, and functions normally. They can drive as well as perform any normal functions other individuals do. But, a methadone patient who does not take a stable dose, often experience drowsiness and are not able to drive.
Methadone, the opioid analgesic is used in the management of drug addiction. However, to get the maximum benefits from the treatment, the patient must take the correct therapeutic dose of methadone. Taking the therapeutic dose of methadone will feel well because all the opioid receptors in the brain are occupied with methadone, thus making it satiated. Patients having the treatment function properly, they do not experience a sense of euphoria, sedation, or any cravings for drugs, and they should not feel sick.