Prescription Drug

Evidence-based descriptions of the most popular Rx drugs and their effects. The full spectrum of prescription drug use from habit to addiction.

Methadone

Methadone is a synthetic opioid analgesic used as a substitute drug in the treatment of morphine and heroin addiction. Learn more about methadone side effects and addiction potential, here.

What is methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid analgesic that is primarily a mu-opioid agonist. It was developed in Germany during the Second World War as a narcotic pain reliever that can treat moderate to severe pain. It is also used as a substitute drug in the treatment of morphine and heroin addiction. Methadone works by depressing the nervous system and changing the way the brain perceives physical and psychological pain. Methadone is prescribed to people who are trying to quit heroin in the form of a green liquid for oral use. But it can also be found as a tablet or as an injection. Methadone is also found under other names, such as Amidone, Chocolate chip cookies, Fizzies, Heptadon, Phy, Symoron, and the brand names Dolophine and Methadose.

Why do people use methadone?

Methadone is the most frequently prescribed medication in the treatment of opiate or opioid dependence. In addiction treatment, it's used to prevent withdrawal symptoms that follow the cessation of drug intake. Still, methadone is used to relieve moderate to severe pain that isn't successfully relieved by non-narcotic painkillers. and because methadone impairs the action in the cough center,  doctors also prescribe it to patients with terminal lung cancer to control intractable coughing. Routes of administration for methadone usually include:
  • Intramuscular injection
  • Intravenously
  • Orally
  • Subcutaneous injection
Still, people abuse methadone illegally in order to achieve euphoric effect. Even though it doesn't create the same "high" as other drugs, it can trigger pleasant and enjoyable sensations of well-being, and many users continue to repeatedly seek them out.

Methadone effects

Methadone mainly depresses the nervous system, and its sedative effects start quickly after initial administration and can last for several hours. Some of the effects of methadone are:
  • Enhanced feelings of relaxation and detachment
  • Impaired function of the respiratory system
  • Reduced physical and psychological pain
  • Relief of anxiety
  • Slower bodily functions
With recreational use, methadone can cause addiction. Other adverse side effects include:
  • Allergic reaction
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Decrease of libido
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Limb swelling
  • Itches and hives
  • Mood changes
  • Rashes
Call your doctor for any unusual problems you're experiencing with methadone. When using methadone in higher doses, users feel sleepy. If the dose is too high a user can fall into coma or stop breathing. Likewise, mixing methadone with alcohol or with benzodiazepines can have serious consequences, usually and most likely the result is an overdose and this can lead to a coma or respiratory failure and death.

Is methadone addictive?

Methadone is a relatively addictive substance. Users are expected to develop methadone dependency and/or tolerance to the drug. The development of psychological dependence varies, though, and is one of the hallmark symptoms of addiction. Because unpleasant methadone withdrawal symptoms manifest in dependent users whenever doses are lowered or are not available, even people who are on a monitored maintenance program may find it impossible to reduce their dosage. If you or a loved one think that you are addicted to methadone, help is available. In fact, you mights consider entering a methadone addiction treatment center or a methadone detox facility to safely come off the medication. Inpatient treatment can monitor your progress and work to address your physical and mental well being. This is an important step of the recovery process, since it gives the patient all the needed tools to continue living an addiction free life. More here on Addiction Blog about how to address problems with methadone.

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  1. I have been on methadone for about 5 years for chronic pain. Actually it is now methadose something about 10mls equals 1 anyway it was 80mls methadone down to 8mls methadose. So I ran out because my doctor retired and I couldn’t get an appointment at the pain clinic with the new doctor(not my fault I continually left messages and was told it would be fine until it wasn’t, then sorry) until about a week late I was taking it one day and missing the next and a couple of days I took 4mls and I also have hydromorphone 4mg for breakthrough pain so I was taking them only on the days I was without methadose or when I only took 4 mls and instead of 1 every 4 hours I was taking 2. So now I have seen the new Dr. and she has dropped me to 6mls methadose because of this and although I was not doing too bad pain wise when I saw her it has now been about 12 days(since I originally was low) and my pain is very bad. Is this because she lowered my methadose?

    1. Hi Marina. It seems to me that you are experience withdrawal symptoms from lowering methadone dose. I suggest that you ask your doctor to slow the tapering schedule.

  2. Help. I’m taking 74mg methadone liquid every morning. I have been on it for almost 18 months. I do no other drugs besides the legal weed. I just started a new job that requires me to look my best, talk to people . Great customer service because I am a server at a upscale steakhouse. Things are going great besides the methadone sweats!!! They are horrible and my co workers might be thinking I’m all fucked up on something cause of all the sweat on my face and hairline and also my back. Can anyone please help. I have tapered my dose down 2mg each week. Tried vitadone didn’t work

  3. Can you tell me how long methadone metabolites stay in your urine I was told 14 days but I still had it in my urine after 25 thank you

  4. I know of at least 2 people who have stopped methadone and everything else for over 10 years. My wife at has been clean for 14 and my brother for 11. I just went COLD TURKEY from 400 mg a day yes 10 mg per ml 400mg sometimes I double dosed it. I was also taken lots of benzos, so I’m doing a benzo Methadone detox. I have been 45 days and I expected it to be a lot worse, I thought it might kill me. I still don’t feel great but it gets better every week, not every day. Just thought I would let you know it is possible. If you or somebody reply I can give you some advice if you would like. Don’t listen to people who say it’s not possible almost everything is. It’s up to you who you listen to. I hope you pull it off you will feel so much better mentally and physically. If you are suicidal go to a 30-day rehab first or make sure you have somebody with you because it get’s a little rough. It is doable some people like to complain a lot I did ‘but my wife would say your pain isn’t anything compared to what you have done to me over the years. So I have to just sit with my mouth shut lol. It is a serious detox you just need to tuff it out and things get better. Just remember one pill one-shot some methadone bub will send you right back. Addicts can normally only control the first use then they are out of control again. Just do it you’ll never know till you try

  5. Hi I truly need help to find a answer we got off the opiates to go right back to them I was thinking if I can get 200.000 signatures can I can I get doctors to be able to keep the people’s on methadone that sign a contract of only that for the rest of there lives knowing the effects subox has a contract that’s why these doctors are getting something out of it why would the doctor I just saw want me off methadone and up my oxymoron 15mg to 4 a day I was taking one and 4 methadone ,Maybe cause next door he owns a skybox clinic isn’t that against the law somehow ,my boyfriend’s in trouble as of the 16th we need another doctor fast we are so scared he’s on 270 a month we are both hiv was hep c he’s a hemophilia person what can we do please advice me if we have to move we will we have no choice for a decent life unless we stay on what we have been on for 15 years anyone that may have any ideas ya can write. thank you I’m in S.C ( for now ) !!!!!!

    1. Hello Elisabeth.

      You should have access to methadone.

      Please contact the following state authorities to talk about the issue directly.

      1. http://www.behavioralhealthofsc.org/behavioral_health_services.html

      Laura Stuckey, BHSA Executive Director
      2711 Middleburg Drive, Suite 205
      Columbia, SC 29204
      803.252.0268

      info@bhsasc.org

      2. South Carolina
      Bettye Harrison
      Coordinator of Adult Services
      Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services
      3700 Forest Drive, Suite 300
      Columbia, SC 29204
      Phone: (803) 734-9556
      Fax: (803) 734-9663
      E-mail: BHarrison@daodas.state.sc.us

      3. SOUTH CAROLINA
      Virginia Ervin, B.S.N., CARN, COHN
      State Opioid Treatment Authority
      South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drugs
      101 Executive Center Drive, Suite 215
      Columbia, SC 29201
      Phone: (803) 896-4860
      Fax: (803) 896-5984
      Email: vervin@daodas.state.sc.us

  6. I took methadone on Friday the 20 of may would you no when it should be out of my urine plz I haven’t taken it since December please I need to no

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Physical addiction to methadone

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How to help a methadone addict?

One way to help a methadone addict is to learn how to approach them and to try to convince them to enter treatment. Read ...

Is methadone safe?

Yes, methadone is generally a safe long-acting opioid medication. More on methadone safety and efficiency in addiction t ...

How is methadone supplied?

Methadone can be prescribed for pain by a licensed physician in the U.S. However, when methadone is used as an opiate/op ...

How is methadone prescribed?

Methadone is prescribed through a medical doctor for pain. But when prescribed for people who are coping with drug addic ...

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