Methadone is a drug used to treat opioid addiction. As opioid withdrawal symptoms can cause severe physical and mental discomfort, the withdrawal period can leave people vulnerable to relapse.
Using methadone or other medications for addiction can help a person successfully detox. Taking methadone will ease the withdrawal symptoms and help ensure the person remains free of their opioid addiction.
However, it is important to know the drug information prior to starting methadone treatment. Like any prescription drug, methadone can cause some side effects.
In recent years, the opioid epidemic in the US has seen a frightening increase. Now more than ever, drug addiction is a serious issue.
Opioids are highly addictive drugs. In some cases, a person may be prescribed opioid medicine to treat severe pain and become addicted. Morphine is a naturally occurring opioid that is used to treat pain and this is the drug that the illicit substance, heroin, is made from.
Heroin is an illegal opioid that is used for substance abuse. Opioids work by directly affecting the opioid receptors in the brain and relaxing the nerves in the central nervous system. This makes them a highly effective painkiller.
However, taking opioids will also provide other pleasurable effects such as a feeling of well-being, relaxation, and euphoria. For this reason, it is easy to become mentally or physically dependent on this drug class and opiate addiction is widespread.
There are many dangers associated with using opioids. Drugs like heroin are highly potent and carry a high risk of overdose.
To keep up with the opioid demand, sellers are illegally manufacturing synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Drugs called synthetic opioids are manmade and highly potent. In fact, fentanyl is the most common synthetic opioid responsible for overdoses in the United States in recent years.
A person suffering from a substance use disorder may accidentally ingest more of a drug than the body can handle and this is known as an overdose. As opioids are powerful substances, overdoses frequently occur among this population. Some common opioid overdose signs are:
- The person seems confused or lethargic.
- The person has trouble breathing/shallow breathing (respiratory depression).
- The person is unconscious.
- The person is unresponsive.
- The person appears blue in color.
If a person is taking opioids and you notice that these symptoms of an overdose occur, call your doctor for immediate medical attention. Some early symptoms such as a change in skin color, chest discomfort, or a change in heartbeat may indicate an overdose. If a person does not display symptoms, contact your local poison control center. An opioid overdose is a medical emergency and can be life-threatening.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a type of addiction medicine, but it is also being used as a prescription painkiller for chronic pain relief. As methadone is an opioid, it is still an addictive substance and before taking it, you should tell your doctor if you suffer from addiction.
A methadone prescription should always be carefully monitored by healthcare professionals to prevent chronic opioid dependence. Furthermore, due to the risk of addiction and overdose, a person using this painkiller should ensure they take the prescribed dose on a regular dosing schedule. If a person suspects they have missed a scheduled methadone tablet, they should skip the missed dose and proceed with their normal schedule.
Methadone can be taken in different ways. There are methadone hydrochloride tablets, dissolvable tablets, an injection administered by a healthcare professional, or as an oral solution. Methadone works the same way other opioids work within the body. It binds itself to the opioid receptors to relieve pain. As methadone is long-lasting, it stays in the system for up to three days.
If a person is struggling with addiction to opioids for a long time, they will develop a physical dependence on the substance. This means the body has become used to the substance and will struggle to function normally without it. If a person who is physically dependent on opioids suddenly stops taking them, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from opioids can be so severe that it can even be life-threatening.
If methadone is in the body, it will block the effects of other opiate drugs like heroin while minimizing the painful symptoms of withdrawal. This makes methadone an effective way to treat addiction. However, like most prescription drugs, there can be negative effects of methadone. It is important to tell your doctor of any other drugs you are taking to avoid any negative drug interactions.
Methadone Use and Side Effects
Methadone hydrochloride tablets are used to treat narcotic abuse. Around the US, methadone clinics exist to treat opioid addictions.
Methadone is typically administered by providing a person with methadone tablets daily for the first ten days of their detox. After this period, the person will receive maintenance treatment daily for six months. Methadone hydrochloride tablets can cause side effects. Some common side effects include:
- Unusual sleepiness
- Stomach cramps
- Slow reaction time
- Difficulty with coordination or balance
- Memory loss
Tell your doctor if any of these side effects occur for a long period of time or appear to grow in severity. If diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting persist for more than one day, stop taking the medication and talk to your doctor immediately.
Other Possible Side Effects
- Overdose: It is as possible to overdose on methadone as it is on an opioid. A methadone overdose will show signs such as loss of consciousness, chest pain, confusion, cough, coughing up froth, lack of responsiveness, increased sweating, irregular heartbeat, or shallow breathing.
- Allergic reaction: It is possible to be allergic to methadone. Talk to your doctor about any allergies you may have and call your doctor immediately if you notice an irregular heartbeat, swelling in the lips, face, throat, and tongue, or a rash.
- Neonatal withdrawal syndrome: If a person is using methadone while pregnant, the baby could develop neonatal withdrawal syndrome upon birth. This can also occur if a mother is using opioids while breastfeeding as it will transfer to the baby via breast milk. This condition can cause a baby to have tremors, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Tell your doctor immediately, before your next dose, if you suspect you may be pregnant.
- Life-threatening respiratory depression: As methadone is one of many muscle relaxants, it can cause breathing problems. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing breathing that is slow or noisy. Breathing difficulty for a long period of time should be reported to your healthcare provider.
- Existing health conditions: Using methadone may make existing health conditions, such as liver disease or kidney disease, worse.
- Some people report other side effects such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, unusual tiredness, weakness, weight gain, mental depression, muscle pain, and hypotension (low blood pressure).
Common Questions Related to Methadone
Taking the first steps toward healing from an addiction can be daunting. If you have started methadone treatment for addiction, you may have some questions. Some common questions include:
Does Methadone Change Your Personality?
While methadone itself will not change your personality, research suggests it can have an effect on an existing mental illness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report that many people with substance abuse issues struggle with mental illness. It is important to talk to your doctor about any existing mental health conditions you may have before starting methadone treatment.
Does Methadone Affect Your Memory?
Methadone can affect memory. Unusual drowsiness, slow reaction times, and impaired cognitive functioning are some of the most common side effects of this medication. Research shows prolonged use can alter nerve cells in the brain that affect learning and memory. However, if you take methadone as prescribed for the required amount of time, the effect on memory should be minimal.
Does Methadone Give You Mood Swings?
As methadone works by altering brain chemistry, it is possible for a person to experience mood swings. Typically, this kind of side effect is on an individual basis and not everyone will experience mood swings. Some people taking methadone report minimized emotional capacity. Opioid addiction and withdrawal can cause overwhelming psychological distress. Addiction medicine is more commonly considered a mediator of this symptom.
How Does Your Body React to Methadone?
Methadone will not produce the same intense rewarding effects as other opioid drugs; however, it will relax the nervous system. People using methadone report a sedative-like feeling in the body. In rare cases, a person might discover they are allergic to methadone. In others, a person may experience uncomfortable side effects. In most cases, it is generally well-received in the body.
Can Methadone Cause Blackouts?
Methadone itself is unlikely to cause a blackout. Some side effects of methadone include confusion, dizziness, and fatigue and if methadone is mixed with other medications, it can cause problematic drug interactions. Furthermore, if a person taking methadone engages in alcohol abuse, breathing problems or blackouts can occur.
Taking the first step towards healing from addiction can be daunting. At Cirque Lodge, we understand how frightening those steps can be and we are here to help.
Our luxury rehab center in the Utah mountains offers exclusive residential care for those suffering from addiction. In our serene location, we offer a personalized addiction recovery plan. Among our services, we provide residents with individual counseling, family-based programs, and support groups. If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction to opioids, take that first step by contacting us today.