Methadone: Everything You Need To Know

November 17, 2022

Methadone oral tablets are used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is only given when other short-term or non-opioid pain relievers do not work for you or if you cannot tolerate them.

Methadone has also been used to fight drug addiction since 1960. This drug is prescribed to severe drug addicts who, for example, used heroin to eliminate the symptoms of acute withdrawal syndrome. Methadone significantly reduces the craving for illegal opioids and practically does not cause euphoria and hallucinations. Therefore, it is also called a means of last hope for drug addicts. If you are addicted to another opioid, you might want to look for methadone clinics near me and find treatment. 

What is methadone?

Methadone is a semi-synthetic drug. As a hard narcotic substance, methadone is prohibited in all countries of the world. However, many countries use it in medicine as “replacement maintenance therapy” for the treatment of drug addicts. In some countries, it is also used as an analgesic to treat chronic pain.

Methadone was synthesized in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century with the help of chlorine and thebaine, as a synthetic analogue of morphine. Methadone is currently the most widely used drug on the streets. It is a very strong drug with a stronger crash than other opiates.

Methadone differs from most other opioids in its long-lasting effect. Its effects are felt about a day after a single intake.

Surveys of drug addicts show that the withdrawal syndrome (breakage) after this drug lasts about a month. Whereas after using heroin for up to two weeks. Doctors who treat drug addicts say that the torment of those people who used methadone is much greater than that of heroin addicts.

Methadone influences the same opioid receptors as morphine and heroin but does not cause a high degree of euphoria.

Side effects of methadone

Methadone accumulates in the body very quickly, so even a small overdose can lead to overdose and death. Therefore, the use of methadone without a medical professional, even for preventive purposes, is extremely dangerous to life.

Even those people who do not use methadone for a long time can develop various physical and mental health disorders, including:

  • breathing problems;
  • diarrhea;
  • arrhythmia;
  • epileptic attacks;
  • faint;
  • sweating;
  • tremor (involuntary shaking of the fingers);
  • mental imbalance;
  • sexual impotence;
  • insomnia;
  • hallucinations;
  • anxiety;
  • paranoid, delusional ideas;
  • apathy;
  • depression

Regular use of methadone can cause:

  • pulmonary edema and suffocation;
  • rash on the skin;
  • anorexia;
  • swelling of hands and feet:
  • insomnia;
  • liver cirrhosis and hepatitis;
  • kidney failure;
  • impotence and infertility.

Note that this is not the entire list of side effects of methadone. It is also important to mention the withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms after using methadone:

  • Dilated pupils;
  • Strong vomiting, constant nausea;
  • Severe joint pain;
  • Fever;
  • Severe headache and migraine;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Severe depression;
  • Tendency to suicide;
  • Pain in the eyes.

How methadone can be helpful

As we mentioned above, methadone is used in methadone clinics near me for replacement maintenance therapy and to reduce the spread of HIV infection. RRT is recognized worldwide as the most cost-effective method of treating people with mental and behavioral disorders caused by opioid use.

It has been proven that replacement therapy (also in subutex clinics) allows:

  • reduce the use of illicit opioids;
  • to reduce the level of crime related to the need to obtain funds for the purchase of illegal drugs;
  • reduce overdose deaths and premature deaths related to drug use;
  • improve social functioning (employment, restoration of relationships, parental responsibilities, etc.);
  • to reduce risky behavior related to the spread of HIV infection, hepatitis B and C among people who use drugs by injection, to improve the prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child;
  • create conditions for effective treatment of AIDS, TB and related diseases (sepsis, purulent infections, hepatitis B and C, trophic ulcers, phlebitis);
  • improve the somatic health of patients.

Methadone therapy is officially supported by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS.

RRT is used in all countries of America, Western Europe, many countries of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States (except Russia and Turkmenistan). 

Replacement maintenance therapy in methadone clinics near me  is not a panacea for drug addiction. This is the treatment of a chronic disease. Some of the program’s patients may require therapy for many years, while others may require lifelong therapy.

According to the recommendations of international organizations, RRT should cover at least 35% of patients. And especially in those countries with high rates of HIV/AIDS.

Methadone and alcohol

The instructions for methadone indicate that its combination with alcohol can lead to respiratory depression, arterial hypotension, deep sedation and even coma, because it enhances the effect of the drug. According to the Public Health Alliance, illegal methadone is often used by drug addicts in combination with other psychoactive substances, including alcohol. This significantly increases the risk of overdose and the likelihood of a fatal outcome, according to methadone clinics.

Methadone overdose is detected by the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, foaming at the mouth; strong retardation, drowsiness; muscle cramps; narrowing of the pupils; cold sweat; strong pallor of the skin and weak pulse; loss of consciousness; coma; cessation of cardiac and respiratory activity.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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