Can you get addicted to methadone?

Methadone has a high potential for abuse and may lead to serious psychological or physical dependence. How can you tell if you are addicted, or not? We review the main signs here.

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It is possible to be addicted to methadone?


Contrary to popular belief, people can become addicted to methadone. How? Methadone can be habit forming when used other than prescribed over a prolonged period of time. In fact, long-term use of any drug can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Still, there is a certain profile of people who are at greater risk of developing methadone addiction. How can you know if you are one of them, or not? What are the objective signs of becoming addicted to methadone? We’ll look at these questions in more detail here. For any further questions, join us in the comments section at the end of the article. In fact, we take the time to respond to all real life questions personally and promptly.

What medicines contain methadone?

Methadone is a medication used for mainly during detoxification treatment and for the maintenance treatment of narcotic addiction. It comes in the form of a tablet, oral solution, or injectable liquid and has a molecular formula C21H27NO.

Methadone can be recognized under the following brand names:

  • Dolophine
  • Diskets
  • Dolophine Hydrochloride
  • Methadose
  • Methadone Hydrochloride Intensol TM
  • Westadone

What does methadone do in the body?

Methadone has two purposes:

  1. To relieve moderate to severe pain
  2. To help treat opioid or opiate dependence

Methadone works by “occupying” the brain’s receptors affected by heroin and other similar drugs. Methadone blocks the euphoric and sedating effects of these stronger drugs, and simultaneously relieves cravings and symptoms associated with withdrawal from opiates.

However, methadone may cause euphoric effects and produce a “high” when it binds to the opiate receptors in the brain. Although the high from methadone is far less intense when compared to other medications and drugs, it can still cause significant toxicities. For that reason, methadone has been classified as Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

How do you get addicted to methadone?

You get addicted to methadone when you use it in doses or ways OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED. If the habit isn’t stopped in time, the consequences can be very serious. The following two (2) main factors contribute to the addiction potential of methadone.

FACTOR 1: Dosing

You can take low doses of methadone on a daily basis and still not become addicted to it. In fact, many people are prescribed low doses of methadone for chronic pain issues and remain addiction-free. Even those who take it in higher doses are not addicted. For example, people who are prescribed higher doses of methadone in addiction treatment stay in treatment longer, use less heroin, have a lower chance of relapse, and have lower incidence of HIV infection.

This is because dose levels depend on individual needs.

However, if a person takes methadone in higher doses than those prescribed, s/he risks the development of tolerance. While tolerance does not indicate addiction in itself, a higher tolerance for a drug can lead to habitual use…which can lead to addiction. So, high dosing to achieve euphoric effect is one factor that leads to addiction.

FACTOR 2: Methods of abuse

When a person is abusing methadone by snorting it or injecting it, s/he will experience more potent effects and they will occur much faster; addiction can develop quickly. But, the faster the onset of euphoric effects, the shorter their duration. Once the extremely intense effects wear off, the user will feel the need to take methadone again. In this way, taking methadone in ANY WAY OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED can lead to addiction.

History of addiction to other substances

People who have a history of addiction to other substances are at highest risk of developing methadone addiction. Their brains have become acclimated to the psychoactive effects of substances and can be sensitive to methadone’s euphoric effect. If you’ve been diagnosed with Substance Use Disorder in the past, you must be extremely careful with how you use the methadone, especially in long-term methadone maintenance treatment.

3 Common signs of methadone addiction

1. Tolerance. You can recognize methadone addiction when a person has developed tolerance to this medication. Tolerance means that s/he requires higher doses of methadone to reach the same effects that used to be achieved at lower doses.

2. Withdrawal. Another sign of methadone addiction includes methadone withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using this medication. However, withdrawal indicates physical dependence. The next symptoms indicates psychological dependence.

3. Cravings. A person addicted to methadone will also obsess over obtaining the drug and start to crave it compulsively. This means that the user thinks about methadone constantly, and won’t stop using, even when health, relationships, home, or work life are at risk.

Of these three symptoms, cravings indicate a real problem with methadone. Tolerance and withdrawal are expected outcomes of regular dosing. But if you start to crave the drug, thinking about it obsessively, and believe you cannot live without it…you may need to seek professional help. An addiction specialist can screen you and help provide a diagnosis for addiction.

Behavioral, physical and mental symptoms

Methadone addiction is characterized by a set of behavioral, physical, and psychological symptoms. In addition to financial, social, work, family and life implications, many chronic and long-term methadone abusers display the following side-effects as a result of their habit.

1. Mood changes that are recognized as behavioral symptoms of a methadone problem include:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Euphoria
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness

2. Physical symptoms that can indicate a methadone problem include:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Open sores
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tachycardia
  • Urinary retention

3. Psychological symptoms that manifest as a result of methadone problems include:

  • Confusion about identity, place, and time
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Repetitive behaviors

How to avoid methadone addiction

The best way to avoid developing an addiction to methadone is to follow your doctor’s advice on dosing, use, and duration of treatment. Do not use methadone for euphoric effect. Be careful with the use of this medication if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse because you are more susceptible to develop a dependency on methadone.

Questions about methadone?

Still have questions about methadone addiction? Please leave them in the section below and we will try our best to provide you with a professional and prompt response.

Reference sources: NHTSA: Methadone
NCBI: Methadone
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I have been using methadone to end a 2 year opiate addiction. I took 30 mg for 3 days. Then went to 35 mg, but I only did thst for 2 days. Then I began taking maybe 10 ml for a couple of days. I imagine that I am currently taking .6 ml ( I am measuring it with an infant ibuprofen syringe) dividing that into 3-4 doses a day. I have been off of the bad opiates and trying to taper this pink stuff for 16 days. I probably have 2 days worth of Methadone left. Am I going to be in trouble here? I am feeling mild wds after 4-8 hours, mostly the typical rocking, moaning, freak out panic, jump out of my skin feeling. Sometimes a litle stomach achey, and draggy. I usually feel better after a small amount. I have had jaw surgery, and am not eating like I should. I am not exercising, just lots of work, not enough water., too much sugar, all tje wrong things. I have great support. Just can’t deal with wds. Can you please tell me what my brain may be doing right now? Is it the opiates I am still feeling (it was really bad,) or am I dependent on Methadone that quickly? Please advise. Trying to get this gorilla off of my back, I feel im close to being free, but I can’t get more Methadone, scared to take suboxone and am just wondering what to expect physically. The mental/emotional issues are not issues. Please help me navigate. Thanks for your time!!!

    1. Hi Alexander. It seems that you are experiencing some side effects. Maybe your doctor needs to adjust the daily Methadone dosage. I suggest that you consult with him/her to help you plan a slower tapering schedule and run some tests. Also, try eating healthy and stay hydrated.
      You can download our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioid Painkillers’ to learn more about opoids and how to deal with them:
      This article may also be helpful:

  2. To April,i am a single dad who is prescribed methadone for heroin addiction,i have had my child for years please contact

  3. I am on 10 mg at twice a day for six months.I was on for years quit with no problem then 6 months ago I was put back on it. The problem is that another Dr put me on Temazepam 30 mg. Which I took for 6 months. I am having a really hard time with the tamazepam and am trying to get off it both. Could it just be withdrawal from the tamazepam and not so much the methadone?I am in hell after my tenth day off.I finally took a methadone after hell and got no relief. I took a very small dose of the tamazepam and felt instant relief. I don’t think I can cold turkey this crap?

    1. Hi Sandra. You may need to enroll into a rehab program. I suggest that you call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

  4. I need to find an expert witness to educate a judge in a case regarding kids who may be returned to parents who were heroine addicts and are now on methadone (life-long). The judge and state workers need to be educated about what parenting on methadone looks like and how it can be detrimental to the kids. My point is. . . this is not “the very best” we can do for these kids (returning them to their parents).

  5. I used to have a methadone addiction years ago when I was a young lad growing up, I abused it big time, when I eventually quit for the 3rd and last time, I was on 125ml a day. It was very painful withdrawals. Now years later I have just started on zomorph as I have got chronic rheumatoid arthritis, am already up to 120mg daily, am concerned about addiction to this and have spoke to my doctor with my concerns, and he just gives me more!! I couldn’t handle going threw another rehab or cold turkey session again.

    1. Hi Paul. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Also, you may call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

  6. Methadone is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE. When administered by a professional, I think the administration of this drug as an alternative to another substance to reduce addiction is great to prevent OD. However, the substance gives similar effects and both are highly addictive – ends up being the same thing.

    1. Hi Nicole. I totally agree with you. But, experts clam that it is easier to quit methadone.

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