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LAAM Dosage and Side Effects | LAAM Drug Treatment

What is LAAM?


LAAM (1-acetyl-methadol), a Schedule II drug, is an artificial opiod available as an oral solution approved by the FDA in 1993. It is also known for its trade names- levomethadyl acetate, Levacetylmethadol and Orlaam. It is used for the second-line therapeutic management of patients with opiod dependence. Its structure is similar to methadone, a drug used in the replacement therapy for opiates. LAAM is given to patients when buprenorphine or methadone therapy does not work. It is an effective medication used to control the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.


How LAAM works


The metabolites contained in the drugs initiate drug reactions that last beyond 72 hours. Because of its efficacy, it is recommended to take the drug at least two days after its last dose. Patients on LAAM maintenance program are not required to visit the clinic daily. Unlike methadone, physicians do not prescribe doses on a take-home basis. It is also required under the Federal law that pregnancy test should be conducted to women on LAAM maintenance therapy.


Special considerations


Because addiction from opiates is a chronic condition that has a high incidence of relapse, using LAAM is not applicable to all opiate dependents. It is also imperative to enroll in a clinically-supervised detox treatment if a person intends to rid himself of the effects of narcotics and to slowly wean himself from the drugs. In order to eliminate the agonizing phase of withdrawal and to treat opiate addiction promptly it is also advisable to undergo a supervised rapid detoxification program.


The following are the withdrawal symptoms caused by detoxification from opiods:


• Abdominal cramps

• Aches

• Agitation

• Anxiety

• Chills

• Cold sweats

• Cramps

• Diaphoresis

• Diarrhea

• Diarrhea

• Dilated pupils

• Fever

• Flu-like symptoms

• Hypertension

• Increased respiration

• Insomnia

• Insomnia

• Irritability

• Lacrimation

• Muscle twitching

• Nausea

• Nausea

• Nightmares

• Rhinorrhea

• Spasms

• Tremor

• Vomiting

• Yawning


Side effects of LAAM even when properly used:


• Abdominal pain

• Abnormal dreams

• Anxiety

• Blurred vision

• Body aches

• Constipation

• Depression

• Diarrhea

• Dry mouth

• Flu-like symptoms

• Headaches

• Hot flashes

• Insomnia

• Nausea

• Rash

• Sweating

• Vomiting


LAAM has an addictive potential. With regular use this can lead to drug dependence and tolerance. The sale of LAAM in the European and US markets is strictly prohibited due to the rare reports of heart conditions called ventricular rhythm disorders.



Patients should take extra precaution in using other substances while on LAAM because it is fatal to mix it with other substances like:




• Alcohol

• Antidepressants

• Benzodiazepines

• Opiates

• Sleeping pills



Other side-effects of using LAAM along with other drugs include:


• Drowsiness

• Sedation

• Unconsciousness



State Laws regarding the use of LAAM


At present, several States require opioid substitution therapy centers to acquire license to operate from the Methadone authority of the State and the SSA. The use of LAAM is not yet approved in some States and a few are still in the process of including LAAM in the list of narcotics for Opiod substitution therapy. The local drug inspecting agencies and the DEA are consistently supervising clinics that offer methadone and LAAM treatment. The records of the patients and the protocols of the opiod substitution program are regularly inspected. These government agencies also ensure that the therapeutic centers have highly qualified staff to administer LAAM and methadone. The reason for the strict regulation is to guarantee the safety of the patients and the centers' accountability in the administration of the medications.



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