Is Methadone Safe? (Why or Why Not?)
As more Americans fall prey to the opiate crisis, doctors are assisting by utilizing another opiate drug. Methadone is a common medicine used to help individuals ween themselves off opioids. While methadone is a helpful tool, it is not a cure-all. Methadone side effects are serious and should be discussed with a medical professional first.
How can one opiate help someone using a drug in the same category? Methadone interacts with the brain and nervous system, helping reduce the effects of street drugs like heroin. Methadone aids in blocking pain while inducing less euphoria than other opiates. However, if not used correctly, it can be just as dangerous.
If opiate addiction is overwhelming for you, and withdrawal pain is becoming too much to handle, methadone may be a quality recovery treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, please reach out to us at (385) 327-7418, and we’ll help you start on a recovery path tailored to your needs.
Is Methadone Safe to Use?
Methadone is safe if used as prescribed by your doctor, and taken as directed. Each dose is specially designed for the individual. In order to overcome an opiate addiction, following your doctor’s instructions is vital.
Overall heart health is a factor in determining if methadone is the right fit for a person. Always share your complete health history with your doctor and follow the prescription to the letter. Sometimes, when paired with other drugs, methadone can cause damage to the heart, even leading to heart failure. Subsequently, overdose can result from improper use of the substance. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shares some helpful tips to safely use methadone after a consultation:
- Never use more than what your doctor prescribed.
- Use at the designated times set by your doctor.
- If a dose is missed or feels like it is not working, do not take a double dose.
- Do not use alcohol while taking methadone.
- Operate vehicles carefully or avoid driving if possible.
- Call 911 if you suspect you took too much methadone.
- Store in a safe location, away from pets and children.
- Always store in room temperature and away from sunlight.
- Do not ever share methadone with others.
There are several side effects of methadone use to take into consideration. If side effects appear they are important to note. Reach out to a doctor immediately if you’re experiencing more than one of the following:
- Difficulty breathing or breathing is shallow.
- Lightheadedness or faint feeling
- Swelling, rashes, or hives appear in the face, lips, tongue or throat.
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Confusion or hallucinations
Methadone side effects can be costly to your health. Additionally, if methadone is causing repeated negative side effects, you may need to have the prescription adjusted.
While methadone can aide in overcoming opiate addiction, if not handled properly it can impose serious harm on the brain and body. Furthermore, understanding the full scope of the administration process for methadone is helpful when beginning treatment.
How is Methadone Administered?
As previously stated, methadone can be ingested in three primary ways: pill, liquid, and water. These options vary from patient to patient depending on their specific needs.
Some might struggle with ingesting pills making liquid ingestion the primary course of action. Medline Plus notes that one of the common ways to take the medication is to mix it with water or juice mixtures.
Since methadone uses often starts while under treatment supervision, the dosage quantity and schedule are all controlled by the medical professionals around you. Unfortunately, this can become a habit, and habits have the ability to shift to dependency.
Taking methadone outside of a controlled environment should be handled with care. In order to ween off of methadone, doctors reduce the dosage little by little. Typically, each week will require less of the substance to control negative withdrawal symptoms. It is important to maintain consistent communication with your doctor and keep them informed of health details while using methadone. By sticking to your prescription, you can beat the pain of opiate withdrawals.
However, there are additional factors to keep in mind when talking to a medical professional about potentially using methadone.
How Does Methadone Work on the Body?
According to the Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI), methadone is a special medication often used in medication-assisted treatment. It is used to help an individual struggling with heroin or other opiate addiction quit that specific substance.
The PRI notes that methadone is primarily aimed at heroin users but is certainly not exclusive to that group. While it might sound intimidating, methadone is used for blocking pain and euphoric feelings in the brain. Specifically, the medication directly interacts with the brain and nervous system. It blocks the withdrawal symptoms while lessening the feelings that tend to cause addictive addiction in patients. Primarily, the medicine works for opiates and synthetic opiates such as:
What makes methadone so unique is its implementation. It can be administered via pill, liquid, or water once a day. Additionally, methadone has a rather long effect on the body. In order to properly help opiate addiction fade, a single dose can last four to eight hours.
Methadone is not a refillable prescription, meaning once you’re done with it, you should be experiencing little to no withdrawal symptoms, according to Medline Plus. Many medical professionals will use methadone for pain over other drugs if they are expecting a patient to require long-term pain relief. Methadone might sound like the perfect drug to cure opiate addiction, but it can become problematic if not used as prescribed.
What to Consider Before Committing to Methadone
Remember, methadone remains an opiate and a controlled substance. While it may not interact with the body the same way as other opiates, it is still capable of contributing to addiction. Substance use is substance use, and for many addicts, they become dependent on having drugs in their system to feel “normal”.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) emphasizes that the addictive properties of methadone exist, but are not as severe as other opiate counterparts. Specifically, the NCBI addresses some of the major differences between methadone and heroin, the abused substance it typically helps mitigate:
- Methadone is taken orally while heroin is injected. IV drug use can lead to transmitted diseases if needles are shared
- Individuals addicted to heroin may resort to crime and violence, while those using methadone tend to live cleaner, more stable lifestyles
- Additionally, methadone does not create the same withdrawal symptoms as heroin, meaning the craving is less likely to take control of personal actions
The World Health Organization (WHO) also supports methadone programs, going as far as listing methadone as an essential medicine. The NCBI also found in their research that individuals who use methadone all the way through rehabilitation are less likely to return. Heroin users, on the other hand, are more likely to relapse and enter rehabilitation again.
With Help, You Can Beat Addiction
Methadone is by no means a “magic bullet” drug. When used safely, and as prescribed, it has benefits but there remain potential side effects. In reality, abstaining from all substances is the best way to achieve sobriety. However, many addicts find this impossible, due to their physical and psychological dependency on a given substance. Methadone side effects can be hazardous but are still less dangerous than those of illicit drugs.
You can help yourself or a loved one overcome addiction. If someone you care about takes methadone, hold them accountable. Make sure they are staying on top of their dosages and the correct timetable for usage.
Fortunately, even though methadone carries risks, users are less likely to need additional rehabilitation than those using illicit opiates alone. In order to achieve sobriety, it means following through with treatment, being dedicated to your health, and trusting your doctor. By understanding methadone’s intent as well as its possible effects, you can reach toward a more fulfilling future.
If you want to begin the journey of recovery, call the number below today. Do not wait until things have become unmanageable to reach out for help. We are here to answer questions and help you map out a personalized recovery program. Sobriety and a fulfilling life are within your reach!
Written by Tristan Kutzer
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