What is Methadone?

Methadone is an analgesic (pain reliever) opioid drug that is used to block the effects of other opioids. The effects of methadone are similar to those of morphine, but last longer. The drug typically remains in the system for 24 hours, but in some instances, it may stay for up to 36 hours. Methadone can be taken in liquid, pill, or wafer form. Methadone is used in replacement therapy as an alternative to heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs.

What is Methadone?
While methadone is sometimes prescribed solely as a pain relief drug, it is primarily used in replacement therapy to treat people seeking to recover from opioid addiction. Individuals who are prescribed methadone often receive the drug at regulated centers called methadone clinics. Over time, the strength of doses are gradually reduced until the patient is ready to completely stop using the drug. Patients usually spend at least a year in methadone treatment before they are fully recovered.
Methadone works by blocking the euphoric effects of other opioids. It also provides relief from the painful physical withdrawal symptoms that patients encounter when they quit using other opioids. Once methadone is in the patient’s system, methadone will satisfy the physical dependence withdrawal symptoms but will cause little to no psychoactive effects. This allows the patient to go about their normal routine and function properly.
Methadone is effective at treating patients with opioid addictions; however, it is important to be aware of the risk factors involved with taking methadone. Patients can become addicted to methadone itself if they fail to follow the prescribed dosing protocol, effectively trading one addiction for another. Methadone may not be the best course of action, depending on a patient’s health history and personal background.
  • Take prescription pain medication
  • Take prescription antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications
  • Are pregnant, nursing, or are planning on becoming pregnant
  • Have a respiratory condition or illness
  • Have heart, liver, kidney, or prostate problems
  • Have a history of low blood pressure or high blood pressure

It is important for patients to closely follow their doctor’s instructions when taking methadone. Drinking alcohol or taking other medications not as directed can lead to dangerous drug interactions and stronger side effects. While methadone overdoses are common , they can be easily avoided by sticking to the prescribed dose. Patients experiencing severe side effects should contact their nearest clinic or emergency medical center immediately.

is this supposed to be common? Maybe instead: “While methadone overdoses do occur, they can be easily avoided by sticking to the prescribed dose”

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

For over fifty years, methadone has been used to effectively treat patients who are in recovery from various opioid addictions. The rise in the prescription of methadone as a long-duration pain relief drug has led to wider availability of the drug. Greater access means more opportunities for recreational use. However, when used properly methadone can be a safe and effective means of overcoming powerful drug addictions.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.

Share on Social Media: