What can I expect after starting treatment?

You may or may not experience withdrawal symptoms for the first few days after treatment begins. During the first two to six weeks, you may have drug cravings and may feel drowsy until your dose is stabilized. During this time, you should avoid operating heavy machinery or driving a car.

In order to maintain a stable level of the Methadone and Suboxone in the body, keeping you from experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, It is best to take your prescription dose at the same time everyday.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose after the dose-stabilization period, the effects of withdrawal will come on more slowly then they do with fast-acting opioids such as heroin.

It is important that you do not miss your dose. Your treatment need not be interrupted even if you wish to travel away from home, if you are ill, if you are in an accident, if you are hospitalized, or if you are arrested.

To ensure you do not miss your dose follow these guidelines:

* If your clinic/provider has issued you a methadone/suboxone client ID card, make sure to carry it with you at all times to identify you as a client

* Keep the phone number of your clinic/provider in your wallet. If you are hospitalized or arrested, contacting your clinic will ensure you continue to recieve the correct dose.

* If you are admitted to the hospital, it is extremely important to let the staff know that you are taking methadone or suboxone. Speak to the hospital staff about your medication and encourage them to contact your treatment provider to discuss your treatment care.
What if I need to go out of town?

If you are required to travel during your treatment period, plan ahead to make sure you can still receive your methadone or suboxone dose. Talk to your treatment provider well in advance for help in making arrangements for a “guest dose” at another pharmacy or clinic location, even if you will be travelling to another city, province or even another country.

If you have earned carry privileges and are considering a short trip outside Canada, speak with your treatment provider about how to carry your dose across the border. When crossing any border, do not try to hide your methadone or suboxone. It is your medication, and a legally obtained prescription drug. Be sure to bring your prescription and any documentation such as your methadone/suboxone client ID card to identify you. Be prepared to show your medication and documentation to a border guard if your are asked to.

Can I overdose from Methadone or Suboxone?

Methadone and Suboxone are safe when used properly, but they are potent drugs that can cause death. Generally deaths from Suboxone or Methadone occur as a result of mixing them with other opioids, alcohol or downers such as Valium. Once you begin treatment, it is important stay away from other drugs and alcohol, which can be deadly when combined with Methadone or Suboxone.

Adapted from: Methadone Maintenance Treatment Client Handbook – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.