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Educate Public On Safe Use Of Methadone

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today launched an initiative to help ensure the safe use of methadone. A prescription drug best known as a treatment for addiction and dependence on heroin and other narcotic pain medicines, methadone is also prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe chronic pain patients. The campaign responds to concerns about an escalating number of poisoning deaths linked to the improper use of this medication.

The public outreach effort, Follow Directions: How to Use Methadone Safely, is designed to inform consumers, health care professionals and treatment clinics about the safe use and misuse of the drug for both pain relief and drug addiction treatment.

Methadone is a synthetic opioid that has been used for decades to reduce drug withdrawal symptoms. Recently, it has been increasingly prescribed as a pain reliever for patients whose moderate-to-severe chronic pain does not respond to non-narcotic pain medications.

The percentage of all poisoning deaths linked to methadone has tripled in recent years, increasing from 4 percent in 1999 to 14 percent in 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moreover, the number of poisoning deaths linked to methadone is rising faster than the number of poisoning deaths from any other narcotic drug.

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Methadone may be best known for use as an addiction treatment medication, but the bigger problem and concern has been with the more recent use as an analgesic. The risk of methadone overdose is partly due to the way the drug metabolizes in the body. People who take methadone normally feel relief within four to eight hours. However, unlike other narcotic pain relievers a single dose of methadone can remain in the body anywhere from eight to 59 hours. As a result, the drug builds up to toxic levels if it is taken too often, in too high an amount, or with other medications.

“The methadone safety campaign materials provide simple instructions on how to use the medication correctly to either manage pain or treat drug addiction,” said H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., C.A.S., F.A.S.A.M., Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “Our goal for this training is to support the safe use of methadone by all patients and prescribing healthcare professionals.”

Methadone, when used for the treatment of narcotic addiction, must be dispensed by a program/clinic that is certified by SAMHSA and registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). But when used as an analgesic, methadone may be prescribed by any healthcare professional registered to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances, and can be dispensed by any licensed and DEA-registered pharmacy.

“Methadone is an important and beneficial drug when prescribed and used properly,” said Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., Deputy Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Educational efforts like the one we are announcing today can help prevent the tragedies that occur when methadone is used improperly.”

Outreach materials about methadone for the public and health care professionals include a brochure, a poster and a fact sheet, in English and Spanish. In addition, a point-of-sale information sheet will be distributed in pharmacies where methadone is dispensed to pain management patients.

SAMHSA and the FDA will continue to work collaboratively with other federal agencies, states, health professional societies, patient advocacy groups, and other interested parties to develop and implement practical steps to reduce avoidable methadone-associated deaths.



im glad there is good information about as one of my doctors used to give me methadone for sciatica, it did help me much better than DF118s that were prescribed to me for a long time as i used to overdose from paracetamol related co-dydramol as the sciatica really hurt when i first was recovering from an RTA. D.Woode.
Education is definitely the first dense against addiction and the lack there of can quite possibly leave a person immobilized to the influence to its existence. Even some of my colleagues wonder if there shouldn't be some sort of questions raised as to why the paramedical industry isn't allowing only certified physicians or drug treatment counselors to administer and/ control the intake of said types of addictive prescribed drugs to circumvent information not being given to patients. I don' t believe that just because the media choose not to discuss each individual prescription-base medicine as a threat diminishes the fact that drugs such as methadone have had some adverse effects. My theory wasn't originally formed to rule out the effectiveness of methadone but to suggest some initiative to be took toward bettering the education behind the prescribing process. It is easy for society to praise medicines like methadone for its overwhelming successes (especially toward the reduction of drug withdrawal symptoms in addicts), though in doing so presents a even harder task in forming a resolve to the negative responses. The pros of this synthetic narcotic drug is that even though it is similar to morphine, methadone is much less habit-forming. Unfortunately, there isn't any drug right now on the market that is completely risk-free. Luckily, we live in a world were most doctors and rehab facilitators understand the importance of giving some semblance of education to their patients. Also methadone is sometimes given in junction with the victims of PTSD, which is the origin of some addicts co-dependence of these type of drugs. That being said would also advise professionals not to take this issue too lightly, considering that this problem might be more psychological than anything else. That means that not only should the patient be educated but psychoanalyzed as well. - Dennis Hansen New Beginnings Detox http://www.newbeginningsdetox.com