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
- 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 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
- Decrease of libido
- Difficulty urinating
- Irregular heart rate
- Limb swelling
- Itches and hives
- Mood changes
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.