What is methadone treatment?

The Effects of Methadone on the Body

effects of methadone

In the US, the government is always battling with opioid overdose crisis. About 115 people die every day due to this problem.

That’s serious, right?

The misuse of opioids affects the public health and economic welfare of the country. One of the opiates that people commonly misuse is methadone. This drug is available in different brands, including Methadose, Diskets, and Dolophine.

It’s used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Doctors can also prescribe it to treat narcotic addiction.

Sadly, some patients misuse their methadone prescription for a variety of reasons. This affects them and their health in different ways. For that reason. This post is going to cover the possible effects of methadone.

Let’s get cracking!

What’s Methadone?

Methadone is prescription medication use in the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program to help patients with opiate addiction. The dose usually starts at 10 or 20 mg and adjusted in 10-mg increments.

German doctors created this medication during the World War II. When it finally arrived in the US, doctors used it to treat patients with severe pain. Today, patients can use it to manage addiction to heroin and narcotic painkillers.

When taken as prescribed by your doctor, methadone medication is safe and effective. For patients with addiction, it works effectively if used together with comprehensive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, which includes social support and counseling.

How Does it Work?

Doctors say this drug works like morphine, but its effects of methadone on the body are slower. Patients can take it as a tablet, powder or liquid.

It works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. This makes you feel relief. Methadone blocks the euphoric effects of opiate drugs, such as codeine and heroin. It also lessens withdrawal symptoms of opiate.

The pain relief from this drug lasts for about eight to 12 hours. Studies have shown that methadone is effective in higher doses, particularly for those patients with heroin addiction.

How Patients Misuse Methadone

Methadone is an effective treatment for suppressing cravings and reducing pain. That’s the factor that makes it risky. This makes it an agonist.

First, it’s has a long-term treatment period, usually a year or more. This makes it easier for patients to become dependent on it. Its highly addictive nature makes patients ignore other treatment options in favor of it.

Some people take it illegally. For example, some HIV patients can inject it into their body.

What Are the Effects of Methadone?

The effects are wide and varied as they depend on the individual’s body.

Those who are taking methadone as a prescription can experience several signs, including:

  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Irregular sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Dependency
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Sleep problems
  • Cognitive changes
  • Harmful drug interactions
  • Fatigue

If patients fail to stop the use of methadone, they are at risk of experiencing several long-term effects, such as:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Respiratory problems
  • Bloodborne diseases like HIV
  • Change in menstrual cycle

Those who are addicted are likely to experience these effects in addition to opioid addiction symptoms.

An overdose of methadone puts a patient at risk of brain damage, coma or even death.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions related to methadone are rare. However, patients are encouraged to see a doctor if they experience symptoms of allergy such as:

  • Rash
  • Itching and swelling
  • Severe dizziness
  • Trouble breathing

If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one, be sure to get medical attention.

Drug Interactions

You’re likely to experience certain effects of methadone due to drug interactions. During your medical appointment, your doctor will want to know all the drugs (prescription and non-prescription) and supplements you are currently using.

When this happens, your doctor will change your dose or is likely to recommend another medication.

Examples of medications that are likely to interact with methadone are:

  • Pimozide
  • Iproniazid
  • Nialamide
  • Selegiline
  • Cisapride
  • Fluconazole
  • Linezolid
  • Bepridil
  • Amisulpride

Interactions can change the action of one or both drugs. Common symptoms include drowsiness and stomach aches.

Effects of an Overdose

Some patients may be prompted to overdose to get quicker results or maintain the relief the medication offers. When you overdose, the possible symptoms include:

  • Twitching muscles
  • Cyanosis (bluish fingernails and lips)
  • Coma
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing

Methadone Addiction

If you use the drug without any medical supervision or guidance, you’re likely to be addicted. This is viewed as a severe psychiatric disorder, and you’re likely to experience moderate to severe symptoms.

Addiction can lead to several physical effects such as poor self-care and hygiene. Addicts will share needs when injecting methadone, and this increases your chances of contracting a blood-borne disease like hepatitis or HIV.

Those who combine methadone addiction with other illicit drugs risk suffering from organ damage and long-term health issues. These can be brain damage, cardiovascular system damage, hypertension, and liver damage.

At this point, addicts are likely to develop physical dependence. This includes drug tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. These are necessary not effects of methadone. Instead, it can be described as a substance abuse disorder.

Withdrawal Treatment

If you’re suffering from methadone addiction, you don’t need to give it to the temptations and its relief. Withdrawal and addiction treatment can help you regain control of your health and improve your lifestyle.

Treatment usually involves reducing your daily dose. If your dose is 40 mg, you can start dropping it down by 3 mg. When you get to 20, drop it by 2 mg. Continue this until you get to 5 mg a day.

These steps ensure a slow but comfortable withdrawal process without resulting in severe withdrawal symptoms. Of course, you’ll experience some symptoms after withdrawing.

Effects of Methadone – The Takeaway

Methadone is an opiate medication for people who have developed opiate use disorders. Due to its pain control and relieving ability, patients are likely to abuse it. This drug gives patients feelings of relaxation and mild euphoria, and this makes it easily abused.

If you or your loved one is suffering from methadone addition, it helps to seek professional help as soon as possible. This post covers some of the common effects of methadone your keep an eye one whenever you’re using the drug.

Do you have any questions or thoughts about this methadone addiction? Free to share them with us in the comments section below.

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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