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Levacetylmethadol is a synthetic opioid which is similar to methadone. It’s also known as LAAM or Orlaam in the United States. This drug was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the early 90s to help treat addiction. Since it is quite similar to methadone, it can be used to successfully treat heroin addictions. Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, the use of Levacetylmethadol was discontinued in the U.S. due to the risk of potentially life-threatening complications. LAAM is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S. This drug has had therapeutic results in many different drug treatment programs. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been used or prescribed responsibly. Users are at a great risk for becoming dependent or addicted to the drug. In addition, there are a variety of side effects, and an overdose can be fatal.

What is Levacetylmethadol?

LAAM is an opioid analgesic, but it isn’t typically used for pain relief. In fact, it was originally used as a second option for addiction treatment programs. It is similar to methadone, and it is related to oxymorphone and naloxone. It is a mu-receptor opioid agonist. This means that it can help to suppress withdrawal symptoms in people who are addicted to similar substances. It actually produces a cross-tolerance for other such agonists. It also downgrades the accompanying high of other drugs, which makes it helpful for addiction treatment. LAAM is typically administered as an oral solution.

How is Levacetylmethadol Used?

LAAMLevacetylmethadol is traditionally used for addiction treatment when methadone or buprenorphine have failed. Dosages will vary depending upon how much methadone a patient was receiving prior to starting the LAAM treatment. Dosages are probably going to be higher if the patient was previously taking methadone on a regular basis without results. LAAM doesn’t have to be administered daily like methadone, and the dosages can be adjusted to each individual patient or situation. Most patients will only take LAAM two or three times each week. Like any other opioid, there is the potential for misuse and addiction. Physicians are careful to gradually wean patients off of LAAM to avoid or mitigate any potential withdrawal symptoms.

Levacetylmethadol for Addiction Treatment

A 2007 study, out of the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, reported that participants who were given Levacetylmethadol instead of Methadone for addiction treatment were more likely to complete the full program successfully. Patients were closely monitored over 52 weeks. They also found that opiate use was lowest for LAAM participants at a post-treatment, follow-up appointment.

Risks of Using LAAM

LAAM was originally taken off of the market due to causing life-threatening ventricular rhythm disorders. This is a potentially deadly side effect which causes an irregular heartbeat in patients. In addition to this documented deadly side effect, LAAM users may experience a variety of other health problems related to the use of opioids. Addiction is also a serious risk for users of LAAM. They are also at risk of overdosing on this powerful drug.

How Does LAAM Affect the Mind?

LAAM affects the mind in many of the same ways as other opioids. The opioids will usually attach to specific protein receptors in the brain and spinal cord. They can induce feelings of mental confusion and drowsiness. LAAM can also significantly alter the respiratory receptor area in one’s brain which can lead to serious breathing problems. Some patients will inevitably experience feelings of euphoria too. These drugs are so addictive, because they also affect the reward center of the brain.

How Does LAAM affect the Body

LAAM can have a variety of different effects on the body. As mentioned above, it can lead to respiratory problems and cardiovascular problems. Since it is an opioid, patients run the risk of becoming addicted or dependent. Withdrawal symptoms can be mitigated through a precisely prescribed treatment program.

What Are the Overdose Effects?

Overdose effects can really depend on how quickly a person is given medical attention. The sooner an overdose victim is treated, the better chance he or she has of making a full recovery. Patients may go an extended period of time without oxygen traveling to their brains. In many cases, the overdose may be fatal.

Signs of Opioid Overdose

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slow or no heart rate
  • Slow breathing or not breathing
  • Blue lips and nails
  • Possibly seizures and muscle spasms

LAAM Side Effects

Although this drug has typically been used for addiction treatment, it can still be abused. Some people may start using it during a treatment program and become totally addicted to it. Like all opioids, it’s a dangerous drug to become addicted to. In therapeutic use, the bad side effects are typically outweighed by the potential benefit of kicking a habit. Unfortunately, not everybody uses LAAM for therapeutic purposes. It has serious side effects which can leave users with life-long health problems.

Possible Side Effects

  • Edema
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rashes
  • Depression
  • Joint pain
  • Nervousness
  • Constipation
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • CNS symptoms like anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hot flashes flu-like symptoms
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Shivering or trembling
  • Fever
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite

Short-Term Effects

Short-term effects associated with LAAM include typical opioid symptoms. LAAM does provide pain relief, because it is an analgesic. Patients may feel euphoric, drowsy or relaxed. They may also have a few negative, short-term, side effects too. Difficulty concentrating, blurred vision, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal issues, reduced libido and anxiety are all potential side effects of using LAAM.

Long-Term Effects

When not administered by a licensed drug treatment physician, use of Levacetylmethadol can turn into a dangerous or deadly addiction. Addiction can lead to a variety of health problems too. Long-term effects associated with opiate use can include depression, malnutrition, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and a reduced threshold for pain. Users are likely to become dependent on the drug and develop unhealthy addictions. LAAM should always be administered under the care of a skilled addiction-treatment physician.

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