Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve answered some of the most common questions clients ask before their first stay with us.
Methadone is a common drug used to treat severe, chronic pain. It’s also used as a prescription drug to treat those addicted to opioids, such as OxyContin, fentanyl, or heroin. It helps decrease the intensity of opioid withdrawal symptoms. It also helps people stay off the more dangerous opioids like heroin.
Whether you’re interested in learning more about methadone for pain management or you’re seeking it to help aid you with addiction treatment and recovery, there are some long-term effects of methadone you should be aware of.
In this blog, we will look at the following:
Methadone has been used as a pain killer for many years. The first time doctors synthesized and used it was in Germany in World War II. Initially, the medical field used it because they agreed it wasn’t as addictive as morphine. Later, in the 70s, physicians began using methadone to treat those addicted to opioids, as it helped curb intense detox symptoms.
Today, the healthcare field uses methadone primarily for opioid management.
Due to varied side effects, methadone use must be monitored by trained physicians. Those that use methadone legally or illegally may experience side effects, such as:
Of course, the degree of side effects will vary depending on different factors. Those that are misusing or abusing methadone may experience more intense side effects. Other factors include:
As with any drug, using methadone long-term can cause problems. Whether you’re using it illegally or as a prescription methadone maintenance, you can become addicted to methadone. Then, when you want to stop using the drug, you may encounter severe withdrawal symptoms.
Anyone using methadone should be strictly supervised by healthcare professionals who understand the long-term methadone abuse risks. While some people stay on methadone for many years, the drug is meant to assist people in getting off opioids without suffering from severe detox symptoms. Then, the doctor should decrease the dosage over time, weaning the person off.
There are various long-term effects of methadone. According to a study published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior in 2011, long-term methadone use may cause nerve, liver, and brain damage. The study was conducted on rats, but researchers propose that the results found could occur in humans who use methadone long-term too.
Long-term effects of methadone on women have been known to disrupt menstrual cycles. Also, women and men have reported a lower sex drive or sexual performance while using methadone. Regarding pregnant women, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends treating opioid addiction with methadone.
Pregnant women who do not receive treatment for opioid addiction risk severe health issues for the baby. However, using methadone to treat opioid addiction during pregnancy also comes with some risks. This is why women must be monitored regularly by a healthcare provider who can adjust the dosage as necessary.
Long-term effects of methadone on the blood can be severe, including death. This is a unique risk, as there’s no way to know who can be affected in this way. Because methadone is toxic, there can be a buildup if a person does not metabolize the drug for some reason. Over time, that buildup could get high enough to cause the person to overdose.
Though it’s not exactly clear the risk factors, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have found that African-Americans tend to be more at risk than Caucasians due to genetic factors.
Other potential long-term effects of methadone include:
Those who misuse or abuse methadone also put themselves at high risk for abuse or overdose. This happens mainly because you don’t get the euphoric feeling you usually get when taking opioids. This can cause some to think that taking more might get them “high,” but it doesn’t. Using increased methadone dosages, therefore, can lead to an overdose, which could be fatal.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to methadone, or you simply want to know how to get off methadone, know that you absolutely can. However, it’s best to get off methadone under the care of an addiction specialist or physician who understands how methadone works.
There are also reputable addiction recovery rehabs and treatment centers that can help you get free from methadone. Using comprehensive, customized treatment programs, you will receive unique, holistic care to help you stop using methadone and work on other life goals too.
The first step will be to detox from methadone. This usually takes between 5 and 10 days. During this time and after, you will receive around-the-clock monitoring, you will likely receive individual counseling, and perhaps attend some support groups as you continue to recover. If you’re struggling with a mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or something else, you can also receive treatment for that.
The amount of time spent in treatment can vary. Typically, people stay for around one month before returning home. Others may finish treatment and then live in a sober living home until they feel strong enough in their recovery to go home. It’s whatever your specific needs are at the time. You should follow up with a strong support network, such as outpatient treatment, a therapist, and support groups.
Methadone can be an excellent tool for opioid addiction recovery or pain management, but it can have long-term side effects and health consequences. If you’d like to learn more about methadone or addiction recovery, please call Soul Surgery today at (833) 568-6619 and talk to an addiction specialist to discuss your options.
Published On: November 4, 2020
Updated On: April 4, 2023