Methadone hydrochloride is also just called methadone. Methadone hydrochloride is available as a tablet, and the drug comes as a liquid and an injectable solution. Methadone is a controlled substance and must be prescribed by a physician. It’s prescribed for pain relief and as a treatment to help people stop using opioids when they’re dependent and addicted to them. Methadone may be used during detoxification from other opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers. When methadone is used during detoxification, it can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, a detox protocol using methadone can be done over a period of about a month, while in other cases, it’s a long-term, gradual process lasting six months or more. Along with being used orally, methadone can be injected into a vein or the muscle of the patient.
Methadone is considered a medication-assisted treatment option or MAT. MAT incorporates the use of medications paired with therapy and addiction treatment for people who are addicted to opioids. Methadone isn’t the only medication used for this purpose, however. Newer options introduced have a reduced risk of misuse and a lower risk profile. Due to the risks of methadone, it is only administered in a closely controlled environment. Methadone hydrochloride can be diverted from medical use and misused as well as sold illicitly as well.
Despite possible benefits as a medication used to treat opioid addiction, methadone isn’t without its own risks. Methadone can be and is often misused. There are also side effects of methadone use and misuse that can be deadly. There is a lower risk of methadone misuse than there is with other opioids because it is slower-acting and less potent, but it’s still something patients should be aware of. Some of the symptoms of methadone misuse can be similar to symptoms of opioid misuse in general. For example, signs someone is misusing methadone can include doctor shopping to try and get multiple prescriptions or using larger amounts to get a euphoric high. Other symptoms of methadone misuse can include continuing to use it beyond what’s instructed by a doctor or obtaining it illegally. Even though methadone is usually only given in controlled environments, some people may steal it, or it may be available on the black market after coming into the country through illegal channels.
The side effects of methadone misuse can be severe. Methadone misuse can lead to overdoses and death. In fact, since methadone is a long-acting drug, it can build up in the system of a patient, which puts that person at a greater risk of overdosing. Some of the common side effects of methadone misuse can include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Impaired thinking and cognition
- Seeming to be forgetful
- Impaired balance
- Coordination problems
- Constricted pupils
- Dry mouth
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Shallow breathing
- Problems urinating
Methadone addiction is possible, and the signs of methadone addiction are much like the signs of being addicted to other opioids. Someone addicted to methadone will continue using it, even when they know the outcome will be negative or they will experience dangerous side effects. Putting oneself in dangerous situations to obtain more methadone can be a sign of addiction, as can putting methadone ahead of everything else. Prioritizing methadone, as well as compulsive and out-of-control use, can indicate someone may need addiction treatment. Often, people with a methadone hydrochloride addiction will feel like they want to stop, and they may even try on their own, but they’re unsuccessful without professional help. If someone is addicted to methadone, they may lose touch with friends and family. Priorities like school or work performance may start to suffer, as do relationships.
The long-term use of methadone hydrochloride and other variations of the drug can cause ongoing, chronic lung and breathing problems. Long-term exposure to methadone hydrochloride can also cause physical dependence, meaning someone will go through withdrawal if they try to stop using the drug. Other long-term effects of methadone hydrochloride can include:
- Reduced testosterone levels
- Sexual dysfunction and changes in sexual desire
- Changes in cognitive function and memory impairment
- Changes in mood and behavior
- Reduced levels of serotonin in the brain, increasing the risk of certain psychiatric conditions
- Cardiovascular issues and complications
- Changes in menstrual cycle for women
Methadone Hydrochloride Addiction
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