How Do I Know If Someone Is On Methadone?

It’s not news to many people that there is an opioid epidemic in the U.S. From the major cities to suburbs and rural areas, the use of opioids is at an all-time high. Opioids are drugs that act on the central nervous system, and they are prescribed and used medically to relieve pain. When taken in high doses, opioids create a euphoric rush, and they’re also highly addictive.

The abuse of opioids can be highly dangerous and deadly, and some of the most commonly abused opioids include prescription painkillers like Dilaudid, Percocet, and OxyContin. Also classified as an opioid is heroin.

When someone has a dependence on opioids, they may be referred to a methadone clinic. A methadone clinic is a specially regulated facility where people are treated for their dependence with another type of opioid: methadone.

Methadone is used as a treatment for withdrawal symptoms related to other opioids, and the goal is to help the addict function normally under the careful supervision of a care provider so they can recover from their addiction.

While methadone is approved as a medicinal treatment for opioid addiction and dependence, and it does have value, there can also be problems with this drug. Often people wonder how they can know if someone is on methadone without a prescription, or if they’re abusing it.

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When someone takes methadone, it takes longer and can be harder to see signs as compared to other opioids. Methadone has a long half-life of 22 hours, which makes it less potent than drugs like heroin, but again, it can be tougher to tell if someone is on methadone.

When someone is on methadone as part of a carefully supervised methadone maintenance therapy program, there may not be any signs of their use at all.

When someone first starts taking methadone, however, even as a treatment for opioid dependence and addiction, they may have some symptoms such as dizziness, and a slight high, although those symptoms usually go away after using it the first time.

Other adverse symptoms that can happen when someone first starts taking methadone are similar to other opioids. These signs someone is on methadone can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, small pupils, constipation, drowsiness, and confusion.

When someone takes methadone in small doses, they may be able to avoid these symptoms altogether and live their life normally, but if they build a tolerance and take higher doses, they might appear to the people around them to be tired and sluggish.

Some of the other possible signs of someone on methadone are:

  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Weight gain or appetite loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing
  • Vision problems
  • Urination problems
  • Sexual programs
  • Missed periods
  • Problems with sleep
  • Sluggish reflexes
  • Clammy skin
  • Concentration problems

Also, while methadone isn’t as potent as other opioids, it may still have some effects on perception, and it may cause sedative effects.

If methadone is being administered as part of an opioid cessation program, it may not be a cause for concern. Concern may arise however if there are red flags that someone is addicted to methadone and that it has become a replacement for the original opioid the individual was addicted to.

Signs someone is on methadone and potentially addicted include:

  • Tolerance: As with any drug, one of the very first outward signs that someone is addicted to methadone is building a tolerance. Regardless of why someone is on methadone, if they start to adjust to the drug, they may chase the original effects it hand on them. This leads that individual to take more of the drug, even without realizing what’s happening.
  • Withdrawal: Another sign someone is on methadone but also potentially addicted is withdrawal. When the body is physically dependent on any substance including methadone, physical symptoms will occur if a person suddenly stops taking With methadone, since the half-life is so long, it can take several days for someone to show signs of withdrawal. The signs someone is in withdrawal from methadone can include soreness of the muscles and general achiness, diarrhea, cramping, chills, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, fatigue, and restlessness.
  • Loss of Control: When people are on methadone and start abusing this opioid, they may lose their sense of self-control. They tend to start using it more than they wanted to, or doing illegal things to obtain the drug. There is a compulsion that exists when someone is addicted to methadone or other drugs.
  • Focus on the Drug: What may start out as a way to stop using opioids like heroin can turn into an addiction when the person on methadone puts a lot of their time and energy on obtaining the drug. They may try to buy methadone illegally, or they might visit multiple doctors who can give methadone.
  • Stockpiling: Since methadone is so highly regulated if people are worried about obtaining more and they are addicted to the drug, the will often start collecting doses and skipping them when they’re scheduled. This will allow them to gather more of the drug, and then take higher doses at one time for a greater effect.

To sum up, while everyone is different some of the biggest red flags someone is on methadone and abusing the drug including increasing dosage without being advised to by a doctor, starting to hide the use of the drug, or visiting doctors and exaggerating symptoms to get more or higher doses. Also, purchasing methadone illegally, developing an emotional attachment, or combining the use of methadone with other substances can also be signs someone has a methadone problem.

Methadone addiction is treatment with appropriate approaches to addiction therapy, and if you know someone who is showing signs of being on methadone, it can be best to contact an expert in the field of addiction.

The concept of being on methadone and abusing it is very complicated, because the person was probably also addicted to other opioids, and may have co-occurring mental disorders, which is why it’s a problem that requires specialized care.

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