Methadone is an effective medication used in the treatment of both moderate to severe pain and addiction to opioids like heroin. While certainly useful in medical situations, this drug comes with the risk of both short- and long-term side effects. The more methadone a person uses, the more likely he or she is to experience these side effects.
Abusing methadone can also increase the likelihood that a person will suffer from the negative side effects of this drug. If you or a loved one is dealing with methadone abuse or addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Vertava Health has several treatment options available to help individuals overcome addiction and reclaim their lives in sobriety.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a Schedule II substance that is most commonly used to treat and manage pain. It is also used in addiction medication-assisted treatment to help someone addicted to opioids combat both withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
This drug is given in liquid, tablet, or powder form and is only available through a prescription. While certainly effective, methadone is only used to treat severe pain that has not responded to other treatment methods due to methadone’s potential side effects.
Methadone is an opioid agonist and works in a similar manner to other opioids like morphine. This medication binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and effectively blocks the sensation of pain. However, unlike many opioids, methadone works much more slowly and is milder in its effects. For these reasons, it is believed that methadone has less of an addictive potential than other pain medications.
Despite the fact that methadone is relatively safe and less addictive than other opioids, it can still be abused. Individuals who abuse methadone often do so by taking more higher quantities than what is prescribed or recommended. This can be dangerous and result in a number of side effects and health consequences.
Short-Term Side Effects Of Methadone
Like other opioids, methadone comes with a significant risk of side effects. Even when a person takes methadone as prescribed, he or she can still experience a number of side effects caused by the drug.
Short-term side effects of methadone include:
- urinary retention
- drowsiness or dizziness
- dry mouth
- upset stomach
- sexual dysfunction
- trouble walking
- slowed or irregular heartbeat
- decreased breathing rate
Methadone can also cause psychological side effects in addition to the physical side effects mentioned above. Potential psychological effects of methadone include hallucinations, depression, and trouble concentrating.
Long-Term Side Effects Of Methadone
Methadone is typically not prescribed for long-term use. Thus, many people who use methadone over an extended period of time may be abusing or addicted to the drug. The longer and more frequently a person uses methadone, the higher the risk he or she will experience the negative long-term consequences of the drug.
Potential long-term side effects of methadone include:
- nerve, liver, and brain damage
- lowered attention span and trouble concentrating
- nausea and vomiting
- mood changes
- cardiovascular problems
- respiratory problems
- changes in sexual function and menstruation (for women)
- increased participation in risky behaviors
Additionally, people who use methadone for a long period of time are at an increased risk of developing dependence and/or addiction to the drug. Just like with other opioids, methadone can affect how a person interprets pain and can provide significant pain relief. This can be addictive over time and can result in individuals continuing to take methadone despite being advised not to.
People who abuse methadone are also more likely to overdose on the drug. This is because many people who abuse this medication do so to experience the “high” associated with opioids. Unfortunately, a large amount of methadone must be taken in order to experience the euphoric effects of the drug. Taking more methadone than what is prescribed or recommended can result in an overdose which can be deadly if not properly and promptly treated.
Treatment Options For Methadone Abuse And Addiction
While methadone can certainly offer a number of benefits when used as prescribed in a medical setting, it can also result in side effects. One of the most dangerous side effects is the risk of dependence and addiction. If you or a loved one is dealing with an addiction to methadone, it’s important to know that you are not alone and that help is available. Vertava Health has rehab centers throughout the nation, all of which offer customized plans of recovery for people looking to overcome substance use disorders.
To learn more about the short- and long-term side effects of methadone, contact an Vertava Health treatment specialist today.