Methadone Drug Facts | A Center for Addiction Recovery

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Information provided below is courtesy of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Methadone Overview

Methadone Addiction TreatmentMethadone is a synthetic, narcotic analgesic (pain reliever). Often used by and associated with the treatment of heroin addicts, it is also used for other medical purposes, such as pain relief. The drug shares many of the same effects and characteristics of morphine and acts in similar ways to it and other narcotic medications. However, with methadone the gradual and mild onset of action prevents the user from getting high and experiencing euphoric effects. Doses used in heroin treatment vary based on a person’s body weight and opiate tolerance; but proper dosage is measured and determined by a patient’s decline in opiate cravings. Despite its use in the treatment community, there are addicts who use methadone as their primary drug of choice. Supplies of the drug for these users are illegal and are diverted from legitimate methadone programs by enrolled methadone patients. In 2000, there were an estimated 1,200 treatment facilities in the U.S. dispensing methadone. The drug is currently a Schedule II and is available in oral solutions, tablets, and injectable forms. Although there is no one manufacturer responsible for producing methadone, the active ingredient is always the same: methadone hydrochloride. Still, methadone is frequently encountered on the illicit market and has been associated with a growing number of overdose deaths.

Methadone Signs of Abuse

  • Lack of Control Over How Much Methadone Are Consumed
  • Obtaining and Using Methadone Becomes a Life Priority
  • Drug Abuse Is More Important Than Family, Social or Vocational Activities

Effects of Methadone Abuse

Abuse of methadone can lead to psychological dependence. When an individual uses methadone, he/she may experience physical symptoms like sweating, itchy skin, or sleepiness. Individuals who abuse methadone risk becoming tolerant of and physically dependent on the drug. In the case of an overdose, effects are slow and shallow breathing, blue fingernails and lips, stomach spasms, clammy skin, convulsions, weak pulse, coma, and possible death.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, muscle tremors, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Methadone can produce physiological and psychological drug dependence of the morphine type, and has the potential for being abused. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of other opioids but are less severe, slower in onset, and last longer. Symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, cramps, muscle aches, dysphoria, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, pupillary dilation, piloerection, tremors, chills, sweating, increased sensitivity to pain, insomnia, and tachycardia.

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