Methadone is a opioid agonist drug used in medication-assisted treatment for recovering heroin and opiate addicts. Meant to help subdue withdrawal symptoms, methadone is intended to help users wean off of harder drugs like heroin. Though effective, this drug can become highly addictive and can induce highs lasting up to eight hours if abused. Without medical guidance, methadone can cause life-threatening and sometimes fatal results.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist used in medication-assisted treatment for addiction. It is commonly prescribed to struggling opiate and heroin addicts in an effort to wean them off of the drug without providing the same euphoric effects. In prescribed doses, methadone can help to suppress painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for hard drugs.

As a full agonist, methadone binds to opioid receptors in the brain triggering them to release endorphins to produce pain relief. At higher doses, methadone can induce a state of euphoria in users and become addictive. The larger the dose, the more effects it can produce unlike partial agonists — including drugs like buprenorphine and Suboxone — that have a ceiling effect on the level of high they can produce. This quality is what makes methadone addictive when abused, though it is not uncommon for users to develop a dependence when using the drug in prescribed doses.

Methadone in the Body

The intensity of methadone effects greatly depend on how it is administered and the dosage. Methadone is available in a few different forms, including:

  • Oral tablets, 5 – 10 mg
  • Dissolvable tablets, 40 mg
  • Oral solution, 1 – 2 mg/mL
  • Injectable solution, 10 mg/mL

When injected intramuscularly or subcutaneously — right under the surface of the skin — onset effects begin between 34 – 50 minutes, similar to when administered orally. When taken orally, methadone effects begin within 30 – 60 minutes. However, the effects can last up to 48 hours depending on how frequent the user consumes the drug.

Methadone High

A typical methadone high can last anywhere between 6 – 8 hours, though the drug can remain in the body up to four days. A user high on methadone can experience a number of effects including euphoria, sedation and drowsiness. Other common side effects of methadone abuse include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Facial flushing
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pain
  • Cotton mouth
  • Constricted pupils
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Dizziness

Chronic methadone use is also responsible for life-threatening health concerns, including dependence and overdose. Other adverse effects of frequent methadone use include:

  • Mood swings
  • Heart issues
  • Weight loss
  • Altered sensory perceptions
  • Coma

Methadone Addiction Treatment

Methadone, though intended as an effective medical aid, has the potential to be highly addictive. Doctors strongly urge to take only what is prescribed to you and under strict guidance. If you are experiencing adverse effects from taking methadone or if you are worried that you’ve become dependent, resources like The Recovery Village are available to help you. Our trained medical experts will be able to provide you with the tools and treatment necessary to live a healthier life. Don’t wait another day to being your recovery journey.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.