Can Methadone Cause a Mental Health Relapse?

Can Methadone Cause a Mental Health Relapse?

Methadone and mental health

Mental health and brain chemistry are closely linked. Some drugs that affect brain chemistry can treat mental health problems, but such drugs can also create a mental health problem, or it can cause a previously controlled one to relapse. Methadone is a prescription opioid that controls brain chemistry, so if you have a mental health problem you are treating, you may be reluctant to use this drug. But, like every prescription drug, methadone can bring you help or harm, depending the way you use it.

Methadone Maintenance Programs

Methadone is commonly used to treat addictions to other opioids. It does not have the same ability to induce euphoria as other opiates, but it can stave off withdrawal symptoms and suppress cravings in people addicted to other opioids. Patients enrolled in a methadone maintenance programs (MMPs) are given a precise dose of methadone each day.

The mental stability achieved through this kind of methadone use provides for counseling and therapy to resolve psychological addiction issues. Rather than causing a mental health relapse, an MMP helps remove the mental health disruption that an ongoing opioid addiction can create. An article published in a 2000 edition of The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment compared rates of depression among current opioid users enrolled in a needle exchange program to recovering addicts participating in a methadone maintenance program. Depression was less common among those in the methadone program.

Help Managing Chronic Pain

A second medical use for methadone is to treat chronic pain. Sometimes methadone helps patients whose symptoms do not respond well to common opioids. Chronic pain may create a greater danger of mental health relapse than methadone may. According to a 2003 article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, moderate or severe chronic pain makes symptoms of depression worse, and it makes pain more difficult to treat.

Methadone Abuse Effects

The threat of mental health relapse that methadone poses falls mostly on those who abuse the drug. Because methadone is known for its use in addiction treatment, many people try to slow down or control their opioid addictions on their own by using it. But, without commitment to a treatment program and expert regulation of dosage, this drug abuse is likely to be ineffective. Switching to methadone in these cases only prolongs addiction and destabilizes mental health.

Methadone abuse can be particularly disruptive to the efficacy of antidepressants. Common antidepressants and mood stabilizers interfere with any mood-altering capabilities methadone would otherwise have. The solution may be to discontinue the antidepressants, but doing so can quickly lead to a relapse of the mental health conditions the antidepressants were being used to control.

Someone who does not have an opioid addiction runs a risk of mental health relapse by abusing methadone. Despite the absence of a euphoric rush when taking methadone, an addiction to this drug can develop through repeated use. The stresses of addiction can cause previously managed mental health issues to relapse.

Treatment for Methadone Abuse and Mental Health Problems

If you or someone you know has mental health issues and she abuses methadone, then call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to learn about effective treatment options. You can recover with the right help.