Is My Friend Addicted to Methadone?

By Jim Woods

Methadone changes the way the brain responds to pain, producing a similar effect to opiates and preventing withdrawal symptoms after individuals stop opiate use.1 So if it helps people recover from opiate addiction, why is methadone so controversial?

The controversy stems from the drug’s addictive quality. Individuals argue that methadone users trade one form of substance abuse for another. While some people use methadone to aid the recovery process, others continue methadone use even after kicking their addiction. Methadone eases the withdrawal symptoms of heroin and other opiate drugs. However, it is possible to take too much methadone. The result can lead to methadone addiction, as well as the potential for a drug overdose, so it is important to be aware of the warning signs to avoid these life-threatening problems.

Methadone is a long-acting medicine, and each dose stays in the body for a long time. For this reason, an addiction specialist should adjust dosages with caution. It may take a couple of days after the medicine is started before the dose of methadone is fully effective.2

Signs of a Methadone Addiction

Man consoling addicted friendMethadone addiction symptoms are similar to those of other prescription drugs. For example, if a friend or loved one takes more than the recommended dose, consider that to be the first warning sign. Another thing to look out for is when an individual uses the drug more frequently than prescribed. Both of these symptoms show that the body is developing a tolerance to the drug and needs more to achieve the desired result.

Many methadone users seek additional prescriptions from doctors. They may even lie about their symptoms to convince medical workers that they need a higher or more frequent dosage. In some cases, people may visit more than one doctor to obtain multiple prescriptions. If a patient has a methadone prescription from more than one doctor, this is also a serious warning sign of addiction. Other causes for alarm include mixing the drug with alcohol or obtaining the substance illegally. Another thing to look for is if your friend is replacing other activities with drug use.

Three Questions to Ask if You Suspect Abuse

  1. Is your friend using the drug responsibly or has it become an obsession with cravings or urges to use more?
  2. Does your friend want to stop using the drug but can’t on their own?
  3. Has your friend developed withdrawal symptoms that subside when they take more of the drug?

Remember, while methadone can be helpful for many people, too much of the drug can cause serious health problems.

Effects of Methadone Abuse

Methadone users experience a variety of side effects. Some short-term issues include anxiety, dizziness, shallow breathing, constipation, sweating, skin rash, water retention and even sexual dysfunction. Long-term, abusers can experience prolonged sexual dysfunction, including impotence, lack of libido and delayed ejaculation. Methadone is also especially dangerous for pregnant women.

Other long-term health issues include a change in body temperature, heart-rate, blood pressure and breathing problems. These health issues can impair a user’s abilities to operate heavy equipment or a motor vehicle.3 When combined with other mood-altering drugs or alcohol, methadone becomes a strong depressant with a fatal risk.

Is My Friend Using Too Much Methadone?

If you are wondering if your friend is using too much methadone, it may be time to get a professional opinion. Unfortunately, many individuals with addiction hide the full extent of their drug use, so it’s important to pay close attention to any warning signs and take action. If you or a loved one needs help, call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


1 “Methadone.” MedlinePlus Drug Information, 15 Jan. 2017, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682134.html. Accessed 14 Aug. 2017.

2 “Methadone for Drug Abuse.” WebMD, WebMD, 12 Mar. 2014, www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/methadone. Accessed 14 Aug. 2017.

3 “Methadone (By mouth).” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Aug. 2017. Accessed 14 Aug. 2017.