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Methadone Treatment for Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms: 4 Facts

By Manjari Bansal
Methadone is a medication that may help you quit oxycodone. Find out four important facts about methadone treatment for oxycodone withdrawal.

Doctors commonly prescribe methadone to help people reduce or quit their use of opioids like oxycodone. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that methadone, a long-acting opioid agonist, reduces the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and cravings, while also blunting the effects of misused opioids. Read on for four interesting facts about using methadone to help soothe oxycodone withdrawal symptoms.  

1. Methadone is an FDA-approved drug for treating opioid dependence.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone to treat opioid dependence. These three medications have been demonstrated to be safe and effective when used in combination with counseling and psychological therapy.

“Methadone is a common medication used as a treatment for the medically-monitored withdrawal from opioid drugs including oxycodone,” Alan Thomalla, PhD, a licensed psychologist at ABC Resources, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

2. Methadone is used as a part of medication-assisted treatment for oxycodone withdrawal.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies to provide a “whole patient” approach to treating opioid addiction. MAT is typically used for treating addiction to opioids like heroin and prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, SAMHSA notes. Medications used in MAT work by blocking the euphoric effect of opioids, reducing urges, and normalizing brain and body functioning.

3. Methadone works by reducing your cravings for oxycodone.

Methadone is technically an opioid medication. "However, its unique properties make it useful in getting people off other, more dangerous drugs. These properties include reducing cravings for oxycodone and other opioid drugs, providing a less euphoric effect compared to oxycodone, and has diminished withdrawal symptoms compared to oxycodone. As such, it is easier to reduce the opioid load over time to get people completely off oxycodone or other opioid drugs,” Thomalla says.

“Methadone is slower to enter and leave the brain than oxycodone, resulting in improved brain function and lower stress hormones when given in the appropriate dose and frequency,” Christopher Johnston, MD, ABPM-ADM, chief medical officer of Pinnacle Treatment Centers, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

4. Methadone is a safe and effective drug when used as prescribed.

Since methadone is classified as an opioid, you should take it exactly as directed by your healthcare provider, MedlinePlus notes. Taking more than your prescribed dose, or using the drug for a longer duration than directed, may lead to addiction. Your doctor will carefully determine the length of your treatment, so you should not stop taking the drug abruptly, even if you feel better. Additionally, consumption of alcohol or other illicit drugs along with methadone may cause life-threatening side effects.

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