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Is Methadone a Dangerous Drug?

Methadone is a synthetic full opioid agonist commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is a very long-acting medication and is effective for some in treating chronic pain conditions and for those with opioid use disorder or opioid dependency. Is Methadone a Dangerous Drug?

Benefits of Methadone Therapy

Methadone can be very beneficial for some when it is used for opioid use disorder and is combined with behavioral therapy. Methadone reduces cravings for opioids and prevents withdrawal for those that are dependent. When closely monitored it can help some individuals sustain recovery and get their lives back. Studies have shown that it is very effective for combating heroin addiction. It has been proven to improve a person’s psychological state and overall quality of life. Methadone treatment can not only help individuals stay sober, it also can reduce the rates of HIV and Hepatitis C infection. Any potential treatment that is effective in reducing the negative effects of opioid addiction is beneficial. Methadone does enable some that are suffering from opioid addiction to live a productive and balanced life in recovery. However, there are some dangers associated with methadone use. Methadone is addictive in itself and can be abused to achieve a euphoric high. That’s why methadone must be distributed and monitored by medical professionals.

Dangers of Methadone Abuse

Methadone can be a very effective treatment for some people with opioid use disorder, however, it does have some potentially dangerous side effects, and if it is mixed with other drugs it can be lethal. The most dangerous short-term effects of Methadone are respiratory depression and drowsiness, especially if the individual is taking too high of a dose. If a person is taking Methadone for opioid use disorder, they must be closely monitored and taking the lowest possible dose to effectively reduce their cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms. Another potential danger of taking Methadone is mixing the drug with other central nervous system depressants. According to the National Institute of Health:

The major risk associated with methadone is an overdose. Overdose is a particular concern in the initial stages of MMT and when methadone is used in combination with other depressant drugs. Methadone overdose may not be obvious for three to four hours after ingestion. Patients should be closely monitored during the first week of treatment for signs of overdose. Overdose is more likely to occur if the patient is using other drugs that depress the central nervous system e.g. alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids. Patients should be informed of the risks of using these drugs in combination with methadone. Methadone should be prescribed with caution to patients who are using other drugs, particularly those that depress the central nervous system (e.g. alcohol, benzodiazepines). Patients should be advised of the increased risk of overdose associated with using methadone in combination with other drugs. (NIH)

Methadone’s effects are more gradual and mild than morphine because it slowly absorbs into the body. This prevents the euphoric high characteristic that morphine has, however methadone is still an opioid and therefore can cause dependence, be abused, and can cause an addiction to the drug itself.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Overall, the benefits of using methadone in a treatment setting do outweigh any potential risks. Treatment does have to be individualized for each patient; what works for some may not work for others. The positive side of this is that there are many different treatment options available these days. Once an individual is ready to start a recovery program, the next step is to talk with a treatment specialist to see what would be the best course of action to get themselves headed in the right direction and start getting their life back. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Miramar offers cutting edge addiction treatment. We offer a safe environment and treat our clients with respect. We specialize in making sure our patients have the most comfortable detox process possible. You no longer have to continue to suffer out of fear. Give us a call today.