Methadone and Anxiety
For anyone struggling with a substance use disorder, it can be very common to also be dealing with anxiety. Since both anxiety and substance abuse are mental health conditions, this is called a co-occurring disorder. Although some people who are recovering from addiction use methadone to address withdrawal, these patients can also suffer from anxiety. If you have anxiety and are taking methadone, you have options. Understanding methadone and anxiety separately is the first step to managing this while in recovery.
What is Methadone Treatment?
Methadone is a medication that is used in “medication-assisted treatment”, also known as MAT. This treatment is used to help with recovery from substance use disorders. Often those who use heroin, narcotic pain medication, or other opiates can benefit from MAT.
When used properly and taken as prescribed, methadone can be very effective. It can allow you to recover from addiction, and reclaim your life. Counseling, treatment, and social support are recommended along with methadone treatment.
Methadone and Anxiety in Treatment
When in recovery for a substance use disorder, the process can be difficult. Although methadone can be extremely helpful in overcoming addiction, mood swings are a side effect. As your mood changes, you might experience symptoms of anxiety, along with other emotional symptoms. Although emotional symptoms are common, be aware that if you experience extreme agitation, confusion, or hallucinations while taking methadone, you should contact a medical professional immediately.
Anxiety is a Withdrawal Symptom
Besides the fact that you will be experiencing many other symptoms, anxiety is also a symptom of withdrawal in general. Although you are using methadone to lessen these feelings, you may still feel some symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms may include sweating, feeling restless, insomnia, and of course, anxiety. If you have a large amount of unexplained anxiety while using methadone, talk to your doctor. An incorrect dosage could be causing your problem with methadone and anxiety.
Can Methadone Cause Depression?
Unfortunately, many individuals who struggle with anxiety, also struggle with depression. Especially because depression is a symptom that often occurs during the recovery process, depression can occur during methadone treatment.
In one study, it was found that high methadone use did have a relationship with psychiatric disorders.1 This was mainly studied in the abuse of methadone, rather than its medical use. Despite this, it does not necessarily mean that methadone causes depression. This study shows only that if you have co-occurring mental disorders at the time of using methadone as a treatment, that you should monitor your symptoms closely with a medical professional.
Can I Take Methadone and Anxiety Medication?
Known as benzodiazepines, this class of medication is often prescribed for anxiety symptoms. When combined with methadone, benzodiazepines can dangerously increase its side effects. This is because methadone and benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system, leading to decreased breathing. When combining these two medications, they can cause an overload on the central nervous system resulting in overdose or death.
Medication Interactions With Methadone
If you are taking any of the following anxiety medications, you should inform your doctor before beginning methadone as a substance abuse treatment:
Alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax)
Diazepam (commonly known as Valium)
Clonazepam (commonly known as Klonopin)
Lorazepam (commonly known as Ativan)
Chlordiazepoxide (commonly known as Librium)
Oxazepam (commonly known as Serax)
Additionally, there are medications for depression that can cause interactions as well such as:
Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Escitalopram (known as Lexapro)
- Citalopram (known as Celexa)
- Paroxetine (known as Prozac)
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Duloxetine (known as Cymbalta)
- Desvenlafaxine (known as Pristiq)
How to Use Methadone Safely
Methadone can be a dangerous drug when not used as prescribed. Never take more methadone than is prescribed. Even if you miss a dose, do not take an extra dose. Be sure to follow these tips to ensure your safety when taking methadone as a treatment for addiction.
No consumption of alcohol while taking methadone
Be aware when driving or operating machinery on methadone
Call 911 if you take too much methadone
Be sure to keep methadone out of the hands of children
Treating Methadone and Anxiety Use
Although anxiety is a symptom of withdrawal and common during methadone treatment, there are many things you can do to go on your journey to recovery with less anxiety. It will also make your journey to recovery easier.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a proper exercise regime is incredible for anxiety reduction. Not only does having good habits help you on your journey to recovery, but it can reduce symptoms. Healthy lifestyles facilitate a healthy life, increasing energy, the length of your life, and overall life quality. Whole foods such as vegetables, lean meats, fish, and grains fuel the body best, with minimally processed products. In regards to staying active, try to exercise at a moderate activity level for at least 30 minutes, three times per week.
Speak With a Therapist
Regular counseling and therapy is extremely important during recovery, and especially when participating in a methadone program. Make sure your addiction counselor knows about your struggles with anxiety as this will allow them to give you more personalized treatment.
Notify All Medical Providers
Keeping all of your health care providers informed regarding your substance use treatment, as well as your anxiety is important. This will allow them to give you the best treatment possible that is tailored to your needs.
Addiction Affects All Aspects of Life
When managing an addiction, it affects all aspects of your life. This means you need to be aware of how it affects your physical state, your mental state, and also your emotional state. By understanding that all of these aspects go hand in hand, you will be able to treat your anxiety more effectively while using methadone.
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