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Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is most often prescribed as a detox medication for the long-term treatment of opiate addiction, though it can also be prescribed as a pain reliever. It is one of the oldest treatments for drug addiction, first used in 1960s.

Methadone’s addiction potential has only increased over the years. In 2008, doctors in the United States wrote about 750,000 prescriptions for pain relief and just 250,000 prescriptions for opiate abuse treatments.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Methadone Use

Methadone offers many of the same effects as other opiates, mainly a sense of euphoria and relaxation. Depending on your health, you may experience other potential side effects, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Complications of Methadone Abuse

Methadone is a highly addictive substance thanks to its easy availability and potency. Addiction has a highly detrimental effect on all aspects of your health, but it can have a truly damaging influence on your personal life. Addiction forces you to behave recklessly, hurting yourself and your loved ones to use or obtain more of a drug. Worst of all, addiction takes control of your life and prevents you from truly enjoying your life. Health complications typically associated with methadone abuse include:

  • Organ failure
  • Heart problems

Dangers of Methadone Use

The greatest danger with methadone is its time of effect. It is designed to last a much longer time than most conventional drugs, suppressing opiate withdrawal symptoms up to 24 hours. In pain relief, methadone can last up to 8 hours.

Long-term abuse of methadone can lead to a variety of dangers, including:

  • Swelling in the face, tongue, and throat
  • Seizures
  • Mood swings
  • Life-threatening changes to heart rate and breathing
  • Severe restlessness and nervousness

Symptoms of Methadone Addiction

All drug addiction is tied to a chemical dependency. Methadone causes your brain to produce more dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with motor control, motivation, and reward. The flood of dopamine will force your brain to limit or block its effects. This forces you to take more methadone just to maintain normal function.

Symptoms of methadone addiction include:

  • Taking more methadone than is prescribed
  • Taking the drug for longer than prescribed
  • Intense cravings for methadone
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you’re not taking methadone


  • Irritability
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness

Medical Intervention for Methadone Addiction

Medication can play a crucial role in your recovery from drug addiction. When administered properly, medication can curb cravings and help you better manage intense withdrawals.

Methadone addiction can potentially be treated using a variety of medications. Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Clonidine
  • Naloxone

Methadone Detox Process

Detox treatment is an important and valuable step in the journey to sobriety. It aims to flush harmful toxins out of your system through medication and a tapered use of the drug. Inpatient care is the best option for detox treatment. It creates a safe, supportive environment for your treatment and gives you access to a trained medical team. This includes counselors for emotional support and motivation along with a general staff who can administer medication and provide care in the event of any emergencies.

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