Methadone was originally developed to treat chronic pain. Today, it’s also used as a replacement medication for people with addiction to opioid drugs like Oxycontin or heroin. Methadone has been used to treat opioid addiction since 1964; in 2011, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. received methadone maintenance treatment.1
How Methadone Works
Methadone works by alleviating drug cravings, reducing withdrawal symptoms, and blocking the euphoric effects of opioids. This can provide the relief a person needs to reduce and eventually stop using opioid drugs.
Though it doesn’t resemble opioid drugs chemically, methadone still produces many of the effects of opioids. Yet, it doesn’t produce the same “rush” as drugs like heroin or prescription pills because of the way it diffuses into the body’s tissues (particularly fat tissue).
Methadone can be taken orally, either in a dissolvable tablet or in drinkable liquid form (the most common method of administration). It can also be given intravenously or by intramuscular injection, but these methods of administration are less common.
While the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that methadone is safe and effective for treating opioid addiction when “prescribed or administered under monitored, controlled conditions,”2 it’s also true some people can develop a tolerance to it and become dependent on the effects it produces. This can lead to methadone abuse, which, in turn, can lead to methadone addiction.
Methadone withdrawal symptoms are reportedly more severe than those of morphine and even heroin. They can also last significantly longer—this is why it’s so important to seek treatment at a reputable outpatient treatment center if you believe you or a loved one is engaging in methadone abuse or is suffering from methadone addiction.
Possible Side Effects of Methadone
In addition to possible methadone addiction, methadone can cause uncomfortable side effects, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heavy sweating
- Slow breathing
- Sexual problems
Sometimes these side effects can be serious or life-threatening—such as trouble breathing, lightheadedness, hives/rash, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or confusion. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek emergency medical care.
Addiction experts generally recommend taking methadone for at least year (and possibly longer) under careful monitoring. When it’s time to stop, doctors generally will have patients taper off slowly to prevent withdrawal.
Medically Supervised Methadone Rehab
If you or a loved one is suffering from methadone addiction, it’s important to seek professional treatment in an intensive outpatient program. An outpatient treatment center can provide the critical medical care and psychological support you need to safely and comfortably manage or detox from methadone.
RECO Intensive’s state-of-the-art Delray Beach methadone rehab center is staffed by a dynamic team of empathic, skilled medical professionals and counselors. Located in sunny Delray Beach, Florida, our facilities provide the perfect setting for healing and wellness. Our goal is to help clients forge a new path forward.
Treatment for methadone addiction is a phone call away—get in touch with an admissions specialist today at 561.808.7986 to learn more, or use our contact form to send us a message.