Side Effects Of Using Methadone To Treat Opioid Use Disorder

Side Effects Of Using Methadone To Treat Opioid Use Disorder

What Is Methadone Used For?

Methadone treatment is a form of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. This treatment is an effective method of easing withdrawal symptoms from substance use disorder, although it is by no means a cure for addiction. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in your brain, so it also decreases the likelihood of relapse by alleviating the physical dependence, as opioids no longer produce euphoric effects when used.

Methadone treatment is most effective when used in conjunction with other forms of treatment programs, such as therapy and support groups, to tackle the causes of the addiction while methadone simply tackles the symptoms. Outpatient rehab and inpatient rehab both offer MAT as a form of alcohol and drug addiction treatment, with many of them focusing on methadone for opioids and naltrexone for alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

How Does Methadone Work?

With methadone, withdrawal symptoms are greatly lessened so people are able to enter recovery quicker after detox and with less distractions. You may still experience withdrawal symptoms during this time, but they will not be as extreme and potentially dangerous as they would be otherwise. Methadone is available in powder, liquid, or tablet form, and each dose of methadone is mixed specifically for the patient, with lower doses being given over time.

You must have constant medical attention when being given methadone, which is why the medication is administered by medical professionals who can monitor your reaction. Methadone is administered both at clinics that specialize in MAT, and at most drug rehabs as part of a larger treatment program.

Can Methadone Have Side Effects?
Methadone does include a variety of side effects that a patient may endure, although these are less intense than the side effects of opioid use and opioid withdrawal. Even when taken correctly, short-term methadone use can have certain side effects such as restlessness, nausea, vomiting, shallow or slow breathing, itchiness, heavy sweating, diarrhea or constipation, weight gain, changes in mood or appetite, trouble sleeping, headaches and abdominal cramps, dry mouth, and vision problems. Methadone can also cause more serious side effects even when taken as directed, which is why medical supervision is a requirement of treatment. If you experience any of these more severe side effects, talk with the medical professionals administering your methadone treatment or contact your primary care physician. These side effects include lightheadedness, breathing problems, hives or a rash, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, confusion, hallucinations, tremors, seizures, a hoarse voice or trouble swallowing, abdominal cramps, severe drowsiness, unusual menstrual periods, and swollen lips, tongue, throat, or face. Although the side effects of methadone sound frightening, opioid withdrawal symptoms and potential relapses are much more threatening, as these can result in fatality. When taken as prescribed, this medication cannot result in overdose. If patients receive methadone through a non-certified source to self-medicate, they may end up developing a dependence on this similar to opioid dependence, and are at risk of overdose. Methadone overdose symptoms include slow breathing, slow heart rate, severe drowsiness, weak muscles, cold or clammy skin, small pupils, and fainting. The best way to avoid methadone overdose is to only receive treatment from a licensed medical professional at a rehab or methadone clinic. However, if you have been taking non-regulated methadone and experience adverse effects, it is important to be honest with your doctor about your methadone use. Long term methadone use can also foster a dependence on the medication, which is why doses are specially mixed for each patient with lower doses over time to wean them off of the drug and avoid methadone dependence. When taking methadone, patients should avoid alcohol consumption and be cautious when driving or operating machinery. It’s also important to store the medication at room temperature, as well as keep it away from light sources. Patients should avoid MAT if they are not receiving it from a medical professional, or if they have become addicted to the drugs prescribed before. Methadone should also be avoided in patients who take other medications, such as anti-anxiety, antidepressants, pain medications, sleeping pills, or medication for heart arrhythmias as the drug interactions can produce dangerous side effects. If you plan to become or are pregnant, do not take this medication. If you have low blood pressure, heart disease or heart rhythm disorders, an electrolyte imbalance, liver or kidney disease, breathing disorders or lung disease, are prone to seizures, or have pancreas or thyroid problems, then methadone treatment is not right for you.
Is Methadone Dangerous?

Just like any drug, methadone has the capacity to become addictive if abused, but it is not inherently addictive. When it is administered by medical professionals at a rehab facility or methadone clinic, patients only receive a controlled amount that they cannot abuse, and then are slowly weaned off the dependence on this substance.

Since methadone blocks the opioid receptors in your brain, it does not produce any euphoric effects that come along with opioid use. Not only does this help reduce the risk of relapse, but it also reduces the risk of dependence on methadone as well, as it will not produce the same effects present in substance abuse.

Is Methadone Treatment Worth It?

Although methadone has side effects and can potentially be abused, it is a much safer alternative to opioid addiction.
Since this treatment blocks the opioid receptors, it decreases the rate of relapse and helps patients stay on the path toward recovery. When used in addition to other treatments for substance abuse and mental illness, such as counseling and behavioral therapies, along with support groups like Narcotics Anonymous, patients have a greater likelihood of overcoming their addiction.

As mental health issues can often lead to substance use disorders, therapy is important in treating the cause of addiction, while methadone simply treats the symptoms. With Medication Assisted Treatment, patients are able to begin a new path in life, free from the burden of substance abuse.

Find out more information concerning whether methadone treatment is right for you by contacting our staff at Fusion Recovery.

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