Methadone: A Necessary Evil?

Methadone is most commonly used to curb cravings for addictions to other Opiates, such as Heroin. For the past 20 years or so, the drug has been increasingly prescribed as a Painkiller for moderate to severe pain. Methadone is often seen as a necessary evil for addicts who need to overcome a much more dangerous addiction. Methadone is controversial in some circles because it is an Opioid, and there are academic and moral concerns over using it to treat Opioid addiction. There are also concerns about how addictive Methadone is and the damage that it has done to the lives of Methadone abusers and their families. However, Methadone maintenance programs have consistently been found to be among the most common and effective methods for treating Heroin addiction since the late 1970’s. Every year, tens of thousands of recovering addicts are treated with Methadone.

Many people underestimate the effects Methadone has on its users.

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Side Effects Of Methadone Use

Methadone is most commonly administered orally, through pills or tablets. Some illicit uses of Methadone may include crushing and swallowing the pills or administering the drug via injection. Intravenous use of Methadone can lead to side effects like collapsed veins and transmission of other diseases, including HIV.

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Recognizing A Methadone Addiction

A Methadone addiction can turn healthy, happy people into dependent, depressed versions of themselves. Knowing what to look for in a Methadone addiction can help you or someone you love regain control of life.

A red flag may be any time someone’s behavior changes dramatically, especially in correlation with starting or increasing doses of Methadone. Here are some telltale signs of Methadone addiction:

  • Increased tolerance

    When a Methadone user develops a tolerance to the drug (meaning they require a higher dose to get the same effects as before), they may have an addiction. This is usually the first sign, but on its own not always a surefire indicator.

  • Presence of withdrawal symptoms

    A habitual Methadone user has unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. Symptoms range from depression to cramps to insomnia.

  • Prioritizing Methadone

    When a Methadone user chooses the drug over social and familial responsibilities, addiction may be present.

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Potential Side Effects Of Methadone:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficult, labored breathing
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pain and cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain
  • Sedation
  • Euphoria
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Decreased attention span
  • Drowsiness
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Little to no reaction to light

Methadone Withdrawal

Because Methadone is often used as a drug to wean addicts off of Heroin, the effects and the consequent withdrawal symptoms between the two are similar. Some sources have gone so far as to say that withdrawing from Methadone is even worse than withdrawing from Heroin.

Potential Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sweating
  • Constipation

Overcoming A Methadone Addiction

Whether you’ve used Methadone as a Painkiller or a way to manage a harder addiction, coming down from it can be challenging at best. Contact a treatment provider to discuss available treatment options.

Published:

Author

Jeffrey Juergens

Photo of Jeffrey Juergens
  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

Theresa Parisi

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  • Theresa Parisi received her bachelor’s degree in Addiction Science and Psychology from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota in 2010. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) by the Florida Certification Board. Theresa is passionate about recovery having gone through addiction herself.

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Sources

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Recovery Unplugged – Harrison House of Northern Virginia

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