Things You Might Not Know about Methadone

When methadone was first formulated, it was intended to treat pain for German soldiers injured during World War II. Methadone is still used to relieve moderate to severe pain that has not been relieved by non-narcotic pain relievers. More often methadone is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in patients who are struggling to overcome addiction to other opiate drugs and are enrolled in treatment programs. When used under the close supervision of a doctor methadone can be a safe and effective drug. However, any use can lead to a secondary or replacement addiction, and when methadone is misused or abused, particularly in combination with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs or alcohol, death or nonfatal overdose can occur.

Things You Might Not Know about Methadone

The following are some things that you might not know about methadone. These facts discuss both the potential benefits and dangers of methadone use.

  • Methadone has been used for more than 30 years to treat opioid addiction. It is only effective in cases of addiction to heroin, morphine and other opioid drugs, and it is not an effective treatment for other drugs of abuse.
  • Any methadone treatment program must be approved by the state and federal governments and must treat patients according to specific federal laws.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that among patients receiving Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) weekly heroin use decreased by 69%, criminal activity decreased by 52% and full-time employment increased by 24%.
  • Methadone side effects mirror those of heroin and include headaches, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, severe weight loss, constipation, weakness and lightheadedness.
  • The risk that you will experience serious or life-threatening side effects of methadone is greatest when you first start taking methadone, when you switch from another narcotic medication to methadone and when your doctor increases your dose of methadone.
  • Methadone poisoning deaths increased 390% from 1999 through 2004.
  • The primary method of diversion of methadone is when the drug is obtained for legitimate moderate to severe pain but is then diverted from hospitals, pharmacies, practitioners and pain management physicians into street sales.
  • As the incidence of opioid abuse is increasing in significant numbers, many organizations are suggesting guidelines for the treatment of opioid addiction including the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). These professional organizations strongly suggest that treatment for opioid addiction be comprehensive, integrated and include the use of psychological therapies and drug addiction treatments.
  • Long-term and potentially fatal effects of methadone include pulmonary problems, respiratory failure, digestive complications, heart disease, blood pressure problems, muscle spasms and coma. The risks of overdosing on methadone are the same as for heroin.

Get Help for Methadone Addiction

Call our toll-free helpline today to ask any other questions you have about methadone abuse and the best methods of treatment. You don’t want to take the risk associated with methadone abuse one more day, so call now. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have; we are here to help.