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LAAM Drug Addiction: Signs, Side Effects, & Treatment 

Also known by names like levomethadyl acetate and levacetylmethadol, LAAM is an opioid agonist medication that was approved for use in 1993. LAAM suppresses opiate withdrawal symptoms for over three days (72 hours) and can only be administered every other day. Thus, daily visits to clinics for these doses aren’t required the same way they are for patients who are taking methadone. However, we’ve heard of some dangers of methadone abuse and addiction, so is it the same with LAAM drug abuse?


What Is LAAM and How Does It Work? 

LAAM is a synthetic opioid agonist that’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the maintenance of opioid addiction treatment. However, it’s not approved for opioid detox, either short or long-term detoxification.

LAAM is metabolized in the liver and is changed to metabolites called nor-LAAM and dinor-LAAM. Of these, nor-LAAM is the most potent. Unlike methadone, LAAM has a long mechanism of action because of these metabolites.

Opioid agonists like LAAM work by stimulating mu-opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) and throughout the body. Opioid agonists bind to these receptors and inhibit the release of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that transmit pain signals between neurons. This medication, therefore, is a great alternative for patients who are recovering from opioid addiction and still require pain treatment.

Opioid agonists are administered as intravenous (IV) injections in hospitals or healthcare facilities. Opioid agonists are used to treat moderate-to-severe acute pain that’s severe enough to require opioid medication when alternative treatments aren’t tolerable, effective, or available

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Side Effects of LAAM 

As we mentioned, opioid agonists are designed to release chemicals that cause pain signaling without producing the euphoric high that opioids are known and abused for. However, as effective as opioid agonists are in helping people during opioid addiction recovery, they can produce certain unpleasant side effects.


Common LAAM side effects include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Hypoxia (inadequate oxygen in tissues)
  • Somnolence (drowsiness)
  • Pruritus (itching)
  • Constipation
  • Sedation
  • Back pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Decreased oxygen in the blood

To prevent adverse reactions and possibly another form of tolerance or dependence, opioid agonists like LAAM are designated for short-term management of moderate-to-severe acute pain. Additionally, the possibility of LAAM drug addiction is slim, as these medications do not produce the same euphoric effects as opioid medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Even so, many opioid addicts attempt to quit on their own by taking opioid agonists like buprenorphine without prescriptions or the care of a hospital or healthcare facility. Additionally, while the abuse potential of LAAM is unclear, methadone and other similar drugs have been known to produce dependence and addiction, which can worsen the recovering addict’s condition.


Help for Opioid Abuse and Addiction  

There are many requirements a person has to meet to receive methadone, LAAM, and other similar medications to help them recover from opioid addiction. While these medications are often effective, it’s also recommended that individuals with severe or long-term substance use disorders seek out professional rehab care.

Our faith-based recovery center in Florida offers Christ-centered addiction treatment that welcomes both the religious and non-religious. We offer medical detox for various substances to help clients get a safe head start on their recovery, provide individual and group therapy during treatment, and more.

Call Faith in Recovery today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our Christian residential drug rehab and how it can help you get and stay sober.

Related Reading: 

How to Manage Opioid Withdrawal 

Adverse Effects of Oxycodone