Levacetylmethadol Addiction

  • Generic Name or Active Ingridient: LAAM

Doctors prescribe levacetylmethadol, otherwise known as LAAM, as part of drug replacement therapy, or DRT, for the treatment of opioid dependency or addiction. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved levacetylmethadol for this use in 1993. Rehabilitation specialists suggest levacetylmethadol as an effective second-line treatment for opioid dependency if patients do not respond to methadone and buprenorphine treatments.

Due to the potentially unsafe side effects associated with this drug, including irregular heart rhythms, this medication is suitable only for those people who do not respond well to other forms of treatment for opioid addiction.

Levacetylmethadol contains a mild opioid that reduces withdrawal symptoms but this drug does not cause euphoria like other opioids. It is possible to become physically dependent or addicted to Levacetylmethadol, even when used as prescribed.

Levacetylmethadol is an opioid but physicians do not prescribe it to relieve pain. Levacetylmethadol is not commercially available in Canada.

The definition of addiction

Individuals may use Levacetylmethadol as part of drug replacement therapy for months or even years. Using Levacetylmethadol for such a long time, even as part of a prescribed treatment plan for opioid dependence, may cause physical dependence or addition, two separate and independent medical conditions.

Addiction is a chronic, primary condition that affects the cells of the central nervous system, or CNS. Opioid addiction is not the result of other illnesses, even though the individual began using Levacetylmethadol to treat another addiction. Addiction to any drug, including Levacetylmethadol and other opioids, requires a long course of professional treatment.

A person who has a family history of addiction faces an increased risk for developing an addiction. Psychological, social and environmental factors do influence the development of addiction and these same factors influence the ways addiction affects each individual. No two addictions are the same; physical and psychological symptoms differ between individuals. Additionally, a person might experience different symptoms and obstacles associated with Levacetylmethadol than he did with his initial addiction.

Rehabilitation specialists diagnose a person as being addicted to a substance based on his behavior. An addicted individual seems unwilling or unable to control his Levacetylmethadol consumption, uses Levacetylmethadol compulsively or experiences cravings for opioids such as Levacetylmethadol.

While addiction is closely associated with dependence, there are distinct differences between these conditions.

The Definition of Dependence

Being physically dependent on Levacetylmethadol means the body needs to maintain a certain level of this drug in order to feel normal. When Levacetylmethadol drops below that level, the body struggles to regain chemical balance. The person feels this battle for chemical stability through uncomfortable, flu-like withdrawal symptoms.

Medical professionals diagnose a patient as being physically dependent if he suffers symptoms once levels of this opioid decrease. A rapid decline in opioids levels occurs because the patient missed a dose, took an insufficient dose or used a drug, such as naloxone, that reduced his opioid levels.

Addiction versus Dependency

Both addiction and dependence make actual changes to the brain and body, but Levacetylmethadol addiction and dependency manifest themselves differently. Dependence is a condition where a person's body needs Levacetylmethadol in order to feel normal, whereas addiction is the compulsive use of Levacetylmethadol. Addiction and dependence on drugs such as Levacetylmethadol are separate and independent from one another; a person can be physically dependent on a drug without being addicted to it and vice versa.

For example, a person may need anti-hypertensive medication to control her blood pressure; if she were to stop taking the drug, her body would struggle to maintain a healthy blood pressure but the patient would not crave her medication.

On the other hand, a person could be addicted to cocaine without being physical dependent upon it. The addict will crave cocaine once he runs out, but the drop in cocaine levels will not result in physical withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction: What Family Members Should Know

Addiction is a disease and not necessarily an indicator of low moral character or criminal behavior. In fact, your loved one probably developed this addiction while using Levacetylmethadol as prescribed by a doctor. In this case, addiction is a risk associated with treatment for opioid dependence.

Like other chronic and disabling medical conditions, addiction affects the whole family. Researchers believe addiction may be hereditary, at least in part, passed from one generation to the next. Environmental factors within the family unit, such as marital problems, financial hardships and other relationship issues, increase the risk for addiction for everyone living within that home.

Family members should be aware that Levacetylmethadol addiction might result in a return to illicit opioid use. Illegal drug use causes collateral damage within the home, such as loss of income, legal issues, expenses, relationship breakdowns, loss of child custody and other problems.

Addiction to Levacetylmethadol and other opioids is often catastrophic, but recovery from addiction can have a positive effect on a family. The family plays a vital role in recovery from illicit opioid or Levacetylmethadol addiction, such as driving the individual to counseling sessions or medical appointments, taking over personal responsibilities or helping him pay for medication. Overcoming the bonds of addiction strengthens the connection between individuals. Each individual is a precious partner in the supportive family network.

It is important that family members know it is possible to arrest the disease's progression at any time. As long as the individual is still alive, he can still work towards recovery from addiction to Levacetylmethadol or other opioids.

Recovery from Levacetylmethadol addiction works best when the individual feels physically, emotionally and spiritually safe and secure in his own home. Family members should recognize addiction as a disease and avoid blaming the individual for his illness.

Caring for a Family Member with an Addiction

Caring for a family member addicted to Levacetylmethadol takes dedication and teamwork. It is important to remember that your loved one relies on support for a successful recovery. A supportive family works together to develop a treatment plan, with each person participating in recovery. The family unit should meet frequently, with or without the addicted individual, to discuss progress.

Family members should absorb everything they can learn about Levacetylmethadol addiction and the treatment for this chronic disease. Anyone can visit websites, ask questions and seek referrals from other people who have supported a loved one during a battle to overcome Levacetylmethadol addiction. While addictions differ from person to person, family members can gain valuable tools from experience of others.

It is all right to talk about opioid addiction within the home and even with people outside the family unit. Communication between family members should be encouraged, even if the addicted person does not want to talk about his condition. Trained rehabilitation counselors can teach everyone how to open up these lines of communication between family members and the person struggling with Levacetylmethadol addiction.

Signs of addiction: For those around

Levacetylmethadol addiction alters a person's behavior, thoughts, emotions and relationships with others. These changes may or may not be obvious to friends, neighbors or co-workers. Addiction to opioids including Levacetylmethadol changes the way a person thinks in a way that causes him to have trouble perceiving, learning, controlling impulses and making rational decisions.

A friend or co-worker may notice changes in a person addicted to Levacetylmethadol, such as:

  • Abnormal, Illegal or Anti-Social Actions
  • Arguments or Violent Outbursts
  • Child Neglect
  • Excessive Levacetylmethadol Prescriptions
  • Frequent Emotional Crisis
  • Legal Trouble
  • Neglect of Social Commitments
  • Prioritizing Activities Involving Levacetylmethadol
  • Separation or Divorce
  • Unexplained Absences from Home
  • Unpredictable Behavior such as Inappropriate Spending
  • Withdrawal from Relationships, Family or Friends

Addiction Symptoms: Physical and Psychological

Levacetylmethadol addiction, like other opioid addictions, makes changes to the brain and body in a way that results in certain physical and psychological symptoms. Because the individual used Levacetylmethadol to overcome his previous addiction to other opioids, it may be difficult to tell whether these changes are due to his addiction to Levacetylmethadol or to the drug he was formerly addicted to.

Physical symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • A Change in Sleep Patterns
  • Bloodshot Eyes with Large or Small Pupils
  • Body or Clothing May Have an Unusual Odor
  • Deteriorating Physical Appearance - Looks Sickly
  • Diminished Hygiene Care
  • Nagging Cough
  • Slurred Speech
  • Tremors
  • Unexplained Weight Gain or Weight Loss

The patient's initial addiction to opioids and subsequent addiction to Levacetylmethadol causes "hard-wired" changes in the reward circuit of brain. These changes are responsible for the uncontrolled, compulsive behavioral patterns associated with opioid and Levacetylmethadol addiction.

Nature provided psychological rewards to reinforce certain behaviors that ensure the survival of the human species. These rewards cause humans to repeat positive behaviors more frequently and with more intensity. Natural rewards, such as eating or mating, ensure the species' success by encouraging individuals to do something that might be otherwise difficult, dull or unpleasant.

This alteration of the reward circuit causes the addicted individual to remember Levacetylmethadol inaccurately as a rewarding experience. This incorrect reward pattern makes the individual lose interest in things he used to enjoy and focus solely on things involving Levacetylmethadol.

Levacetylmethadol addiction alters the reward circuit in a way that causes psychological symptoms, including:

  • An Inability to Stop Using Levacetylmethadol Consistently
  • Cravings for Levacetylmethadol or Other Opioids
  • Dysfunctional Emotional Response
  • Impairment in Behavioral Control
  • Inability to Recognize Significant Personal or Relationship Problems

Behavioral, Cognitive and Emotional Changes

Levacetylmethadol addiction changes every aspect of the way a person acts, thinks and feels. These changes may creep up slowly or happen abruptly. Some of the changes may last long after the individual has quit taking Levacetylmethadol. Left untreated or poorly treated, these behavioral, cognitive and emotional changes increase the risk for returning to opioid abuse after the individual has overcome his addiction to Levacetylmethadol.

Someone with a Levacetylmethadol addiction may take higher doses of his medication or use it more frequently than he realizes. It may seem that she does not want to quit, or is incapable of quitting Levacetylmethadol or other opioids permanently.

Opioids change the way a person thinks and, since doctors prescribe Levacetylmethadol as drug replacement therapy, it may be difficult for the individual to accept that she is still suffering from addiction. She may blame all her problems on other people or events, rather than as the consequence of her addiction to Levacetylmethadol.

Addiction and gender: how women and men are affected differently

Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show more males over the age of 12 use illicit drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, than females of the same age. Females between the ages of 12 and 17 years, however, were more likely to abuse painkillers than males in that same age group.

Many studies reveal older women are more likely to abuse prescription drugs, such as opioid painkillers. Females are also more likely than are men to abuse several substances. This puts women of all ages at special risk for developing opioid and subsequent Levacetylmethadol addictions.

Treatment options

While doctors prescribe Levacetylmethadol to overcome opioid addiction but it is possible to become addicted to Levacetylmethadol itself. Rehabilitation specialists will need to plan treatment options carefully for those addicted to replacement drugs like Levacetylmethadol.

The American Society of Addictive Medicine warns that addiction can cause "disability or premature death, especially when left untreated or treated inadequately." This is even true for Levacetylmethadol addiction. Almost 15,000 people die in the United States every year from overdoses on prescription painkillers, and countless more suffer physical, emotional, social, economic and criminal affects from opioid addiction and many do not get adequate treatment for their disease.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 23 million people in the United States over the age of 12-years needed treatment for alcohol or substance abuse in 2010; of these, only about 11 percent received treatment at a specialty facility.

A large number of people receive Levacetylmethadol to help them overcome addiction to opioids. Just over 5 percent of admissions to publicly funded substance abuse programs were for treatment of opioid abuse; because patients can take Levacetylmethadol therapy as an outpatient, they do not need to be admitted to an inpatient facility.


Once someone participates in behavior modification and overcomes addiction to the initial opioid, he must then wean himself from Levacetylmethadol. A person addicted to Levacetylmethadol might try to quit alone, without the help of detoxification specialists because he feels he has gained everything possible from the professionals. Doctors call this process self-detoxification but everyday people call it "going cold turkey," so named for the cold, clammy, bumpy and pale appearance the skin takes on during detoxification.

During self-detoxification, the individual experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with opioids, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, cold sweats and muscle pain. Withdrawal symptoms can last for several days.

Without the help of a trained professional, the addicted individual may suffer dangerous complications. For instance, she might vomit and inhale stomach contents, a complication known as aspiration. Aspiration can cause pneumonia or lung infections. A person trying to detoxify himself from Levacetylmethadol also faces dehydration from excessive vomiting and diarrhea. Many people give up and return to opioid or Levacetylmethadol abuse.

Other people concoct a homemade treatment plan including medications to reduce the withdrawal symptoms during self-detoxification. Once such home remedy is The Thomas Recipe, in which a person takes prescription medication to reduce anxiety and induce sleep, over-the-counter preparations to ease diarrhea plus vitamins and supplements to soothe muscle ache and fatigue.

While these homespun treatment plans can reduce withdrawal symptoms associated with Levacetylmethadol addiction somewhat, the person risks the same dangerous complications as he would without any medication at all. Furthermore, self-detoxification addresses only the physical aspects of opioid withdrawal; self-detox does not deal with the complex behavioral aspects of Levacetylmethadol addiction. This gap in the treatment plan increases the risk for relapse to Levacetylmethadol or other opioids.


Relapse is the largest complication associated with quitting Levacetylmethadol and other opioids. Relapse increases the risk for overdose. Even a small amount of detoxification lowers the body's tolerance to opioids. After experiencing even moderate withdrawal symptoms, a person can overdose on a smaller amount of Levacetylmethadol than he used to take.

Most cases of Levacetylmethadol overdose involve another drug. Cases of Levacetylmethadol overdose alone is rare, and has always been the result of taking Levacetylmethadol too often. Overdose is primarily a concern for individuals who are not tolerant to opioids, either because the person has not taken opioids frequently or because he has recently attempted detoxification.

Overdose symptoms include:

  • Extreme Drowsiness
  • Pinpoint Pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Cold, Clammy Skin
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Weak Pulse
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Coma
  • Blue Lips
  • Shallow Breathing or No Breathing

Overdose is a serious, sometimes fatal emergency that requires immediate professional care. In the emergency department, doctors administer naloxone and other medications to reduce opioids to non-toxic levels quickly. Nurses establish an airway to help the patient breathe and monitor his circulation. If necessary, nurses may empty the patient's stomach or administer charcoal to absorb excess Levacetylmethadol.

Once the patient's Levacetylmethadol levels are within safe levels, she may continue her behavioral therapy program as an outpatient.

Drug Replacement Therapy

Doctors regularly prescribe Levacetylmethadol as part of outpatient drug replacement therapy, or DRT. Other DRT medications include methadone, Suboxone or buprenorphine. These drugs bind to the same opioid receptors in the central nervous system as opioids and Levacetylmethadol do in a way that reduces withdrawal symptoms.

DRT medications including Levacetylmethadol last longer than other opioids, such as oxycodone or codeine, and do not produce the euphoric effects. Patients receive Levacetylmethadol three times a week, in contrast with methadone, which patients take daily. DRT medications allow addicted individuals to participate in treatment without a hospital stay.

Supporters of using Levacetylmethadol as DRT recognize the flexibility of outpatient treatment while opponents say it is merely trading one addiction for another. After Levacetylmethadol helps the patient overcome his initial addiction, the individual must address his need for Levacetylmethadol.

After the individual changes the behaviors associated with his initial addiction, he weans himself from Levacetylmethadol. Some patients struggle with their Levacetylmethadol for years, unable to free themselves from drug addiction.

After the individual changes the behaviors associated with addiction, he must wean himself from methadone.

Levacetylmethadol is just one type of Medically-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, in which physicians administer drugs to lower opioid levels and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Standard detoxification and rapid detox are other types of MAT.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMSA, Levacetylmethadol or DRT intervention:

  • Improves Survival Rates
  • Increases Retention in Treatment Programs
  • Decreases Illicit Opioid Use
  • Decreases the Risk for Hepatitis and HIV
  • Decreases Criminal Activities
  • Increases Employment
  • Improves Birth Outcomes for Pregnant Women Battling Addiction

Inpatient MAT programs use medicine that ease withdrawal and facilitate detoxification from Levacetylmethadol use. During detoxification, physicians administer some medications to decrease the level of Levacetylmethadol, plus other drugs that relieve the resulting symptoms of withdrawal. Medical personnel observe patients for dangerous complications, such as dehydration or aspiration, and take lifesaving measures whenever necessary. While detox eases the physical aspects of addiction, individuals must still endure the demoralizing process of detoxification from the effects of Levacetylmethadol.

Rapid detox is the most humane method of detoxification from Levacetylmethadol addiction. During rapid detox, board-certified anesthesiologists administer standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal medications alongside anesthesia and sedatives so that the patient dozes in a comfortable "twilight sleep" rather than battle uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When the patient awakens a few hours later, he will have no memory of the grueling and demoralizing detoxification and withdrawal period. He can now complete the rehabilitation process.


A person must continue rehabilitation and behavior modification to overcome Levacetylmethadol addiction. Like all other addictions, Levacetylmethadol addiction is a complex, chronic disease that affects brain function and behavior. Individual, family and group counseling, along with other behavioral therapy are a large part of successful treatment for Levacetylmethadol addiction. While no single type of treatment for Levacetylmethadol addiction works for everyone, specialists agree that treatment does needs to be readily available in order to be effective.

Levacetylmethadol addiction treatment must attend to the complex and multiple needs of the individual, and not just focus on his addiction to opioid drugs. Many drug-addicted individuals also have social issues, financial pressures, relationship problems or other mental disorders that prevent or slow the recovery process.

Levacetylmethadol is an important element of treatment for opioid addiction for many patients, especially when therapists combine Levacetylmethadol with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Levacetylmethadol is only one aspect of treatment for opioid dependence and, by itself, does little to change long-term drug abuse.

Miscellaneous Information

About 9 percent of people abuse opioids at some point in their lives. Many of these individuals ultimately use Levacetylmethadol to overcome dependence on these opioids when other forms of drug replacement therapy do not work.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Levacetylmethadol for use in 1993. Levacetylmethadol has a long onset, which means it takes a while to "kick in." It also has a long duration, with the effects lasting up to 72 hours.