Methadone Treatment, Effects & SympToms

Methadone is a relatively mild opioid analgesic that is used to lessen the negative effects of opioid withdrawal and overdose. Identifying methadone can be difficult due to the subtlety of abuse symptoms.

Introduction to Methadone

Methadone is an opioid analgesic used for treating opioid addiction and creating a safer detox process. It can help reduce cravings and lessen opioid withdrawal effects when used in replacement therapy. When used illicitly, it does not produce a feeling of euphoria and instead, acts more as a sedative. 

Any high associated with this drug is likely to be mild. Although it is considered to have a low risk of being abused or causing addiction, using stronger-than-recommended dosages amplifies the risk. Comparatively, it works much more slowly and is significantly less potent and the effects are quite subtle. 

Because methadone has such a long half-life, it is fairly easy to build up a physical dependence which can cause typical opioid overdose side effects such as high blood pressure or dangerously slowed breathing. 

How Does It Work?

Methadone functions as other opioids do and interferes with mu receptors in the brain and nervous system. It is typically taken orally but can also be used via snorting, smoking, or injection – the latter being indicative of methadone abuse.

In addition to providing pain relief, methadone can block the effects of euphoria-inducing opioids. This ability makes it incredibly effective in helping to manage opioid withdrawal. It does this by mimicking the opioid neurotransmitters that would otherwise be triggered, fulfilling the craving but without the euphoric high. 

Methadone Side Effects

As is the case with most opioids, methadone has a significant chance of becoming habit-forming. Side effects can be serious and include life-threatening breathing problems that are made worse by asthma, lung disease, or chronic bronchitis. These symptoms are likely to occur within 1-3 days of use.

Short-Term Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Weight gain
  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth or sore tongue
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach pain

Long-Term Side Effects

  • Poor reflexes and sluggishness
  • Vision problems
  • Constipation
  • Irregular menstruation or sexual dysfunction
  • Weakness
  • Slowed breathing rate

The Best Treatment for a Methadone Addiction

Methadone is incredibly effective as a treatment for illicit opiod addiction and poses little risk when taken as prescribed. Addiction is often caused by incidental overdosages; users mistake its slow-acting and notable mild effects for lack of potency and end up using larger doses more frequently. Medical treatment is recommended for treating a methadone addiction or overdose.

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