If you’ve chosen to use methadone treatment for opiate addiction, then the odds are not in your favor. Most people have such a hard time getting off methadone that they either end up getting back on illicit opiates, or they stay on methadone for life. What if I told you that getting off methadone doesn’t have to be painful? Sound too good to be true? I assure that getting off methadone is possible with these 7 steps…
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1. Disassociate from Everyone who uses Illicit Drugs
Hanging out with people who use drugs is not conducive to a healthy recovery. The sooner you get these people out of your life, the better. I know how hard it can be to give up your old friends. I was unable to do this for a long time. As a result, I continued to slip back into my old ways over and over again. Furthermore, when I was a counselor at a methadone clinic, I saw many people getting off methadone relapse due to hanging out with friends that still used heroin.
Do yourself a favor and change your phone number, then delete the numbers of anyone who would be risky to have in your contacts. If you don’t do this important first step, it will be too easy to score down the road when you are getting off methadone.
2. Get a Support Group
Getting off methadone isn’t easy. There will be times when you don’t think you can do it. Having a strong support group will help you stay clean during these difficult times. A support group is a group of people with common experiences and concerns who provide emotional and moral support for one another. For instance, there are Methadone Anonymous forums where you can get support from the comfort of your own home. It’s also good to have a support system of friends and family you can connect with during hard times.
A few important facts about support groups:
- The bigger they are, the better.
- The stronger they are, the better.
- If you don’t use them, they don’t work.
3. Stay Clean for at Least 90 Days
I can’t tell you how many times I had patients who tried getting off methadone while they were still using illicit opiates! Do you think that worked? Absolutely not. I wouldn’t recommend getting off methadone until you have more than 90 days clean time. If you try getting off methadone before you are psychologically ready, the chance of relapsing is extremely high. The people I saw have success getting off methadone were usually clean for over a year.
4. Talk to your Doctor and Counselor about Starting a Taper
Getting off methadone begins with starting a taper. Tapering methadone is systemically lowering your methadone dosage over a specific amount of time. Gradual reduction of your dose doesn’t shock your body like stopping abruptly does. When you feel like you’re ready to start a methadone taper, make an appointment to see your counselor and doctor. Tell them about your goals for getting off methadone.
Note: When you talk to the doctor, they will ask you questions regarding your dose, health, whether or not you have a support group, how much clean time you have etc. You and the doctor will then come up with a methadone tapering schedule that is appropriate for you.
Here are some important points on tapering methadone:
- The slower you go, the less of a shock it is to your body and mind.
- Reduce your dose by no more than 5 mg per week.
- You can stop your taper whenever you want.
- If you haven’t already slowed it down, consider doing so after you reach 30 mg.
One of the main reasons getting off methadone is so hard is because you become extremely deficient in endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that are our natural pain-killers. Methadone and other opioids mimic endorphins. After you’ve been on methadone for a while, your brain stops producing its own endorphins. It does this because you’ve been supplying it with a drug that radically spikes your endorphin levels.
Once you’ve started getting off methadone, your brain doesn’t start making endorphins right away. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for your body to get back to normal functioning. Sometimes it never gets back to the same level of brain functioning.
There are natural ways of speeding up this recovery time. Exercise is an easy way to naturally increase your endorphin production while getting off methadone.
Note: Make sure to choose a form of exercise that you like, that way you’ll be more inclined to stick with it.
6. Consume an Endorphin-Building Diet
Another natural way to increase endorphins is to eat protein-rich foods. A person planning on getting off methadone should consider taking in at least 20-30 grams of protein three times a day. Fresh vegetables, good fats, and oils are also recommended to help build endorphins.
Examples of high protein foods:
- Cottage cheese
Note: If you are vegetarian use foods like eggs, quinoa, and beans as high protein alternatives.
Here are some examples of endorphin-building meals:
- Egg and veggie omelet with turkey bacon and home fries.
- Large Greek chicken salad with Italian dressing, pita bread, and hummus.
- A good size piece of salmon, steamed veggies and a baked potato with melted butter and cheese.
7. Take Supplements to help with getting off Methadone
There are many natural supplements that you can take to help minimize the symptoms of getting off methadone. One of my favorites is DLPA. This twin formula is a combination of the D- and the L- forms of the amino acid phenylalanine. These two forms work well together because each offers a different but synergistic effect. Taking this supplement can significantly increase endorphins and can work within minutes.
In one study reported in the book DLPA, endorphin levels tripled 90 minutes after a single dose of DLPA was taken. What’s even more amazing is that endorphin levels stayed that high for almost a week.
Another supplement for getting off methadone is a free-form amino acid blend, which contains a blend of amino acids and includes plenty of the nine “essential” amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, histidine, lysine, phenylalanine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Note: Taking these aminos in combination with DLPA and protein-rich meals and snacks can help you produce endorphins.
Other supplements that can help increase endorphins:
- Omega-3 Fats
- Vitamin C
Finally, taking an opiate withdrawal remedy guaranteed to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms is very important.
If you can afford it, I also highly recommend taking this awesome supplement, because the benefits are just too good to pass up.
Here are some other articles on methadone you might enjoy:
If you have any questions about getting off Methadone, please don’t hesitate to leave it in the comment box below.