Methadone Abuse and Brain Injuries

Methadone Abuse and Brain Injuries

Learning how methadone abuse may lead to brain injury can motivate you to get sober and avoid relapse

Opioid abuse damages the body’s natural ability to cope with pain. That is why withdrawal from drugs such as heroin and prescription pain pills can be excruciating. Once the levels of opioids in the body begin to decrease, symptoms such as severe aches and stomach cramps can set in. Many people begin abusing opioids again simply to avoid going into withdrawal.

Methadone is a medication that can help individuals step down from opioids. It attaches to opiate receptors to normalize body functions and bring relief without producing an addictive high. New patients take a low dose of methadone and gradually increase it until withdrawal symptoms fade. Key facts about methadone include the following:

  • It often becomes fully effective only after several days
  • It is long-acting
  • Treatment can last a lifetime

For many people getting sober from opioid abuse might be impossible without drugs such as methadone. The best way to know if you might benefit from this treatment is to consult a healthcare professional.

Brain Damage and Methadone

Although methadone can be a lifesaver, it also has negative side effects. Several include the following:

  • It disrupts the way the brain handles cognitive processes
  • It slows down reactions and diminishes alertness

Methadone also impairs attention, learning ability and memory functions including the following:

  • Working memory – Short-term storage of digits, words, names and other items
  • Verbal memory – The ability to remember words and abstract concepts related to language

Young drug abusers are up to three times more likely to suffer brain damage than those who do not use drugs. Their brains show significantly higher levels of two key proteins associated with brain damage and low-grade inflammation. Additionally, scans of their brains show nerve damage in the same areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease in older individuals. Several include the following:

  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Emotional well-being

Methadone abuse leads to a build up of proteins that cause severe nerve cell damage and death in essential parts of the brain that cannot be regenerated or healed over time.

Like other narcotic medicines, methadone also lowers respiratory rate. Even after it wears off, breathing can remain slowed. Precautions to follow in order to take methadone safely include the following:

  • Never stop taking methadone cold turkey
  • Call your doctor if you miss more than three doses in a row
  • Alert your doctor immediately if you sense the medicine is not working
  • Do not combine with alcohol
  • Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how methadone affects you

Recovery from methadone addiction is not easy, but it is possible with courage, commitment and the right tools and support. The best way to get sober and avoid relapse is to seek professional treatment, ideally from a specialized rehab facility.

Recovery Help For Methadone

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction and other issues surrounding methadone, you are not alone. Recovery counselors at our toll free, 24–hour support line can guide you to wellness. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Please call. Start your recovery today.