The Unintended Effects of Methadone

in Detox
Published Nov 10, 2020
Unintended Effects of Methadone

Methadone is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder and is typically part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). When taken as prescribed, methadone can be safe. However, it is also highly addictive. Someone who uses methadone may not believe they have become addicted or dependent on the medication due to it being prescribed and treatment for substance use disorder. At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we provide effective treatment that avoids the prescription of methadone and the dangers of cross-addiction.

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid. This classification comes from it being created in a lab, rather than being made from opium as opiates are. Methadone was first developed in the mid-1900s to replace the use of morphine. It became available in the United States in 1947 to be used for pain relief. However, in the ’60s and early ’70s, doctors realized methadone could be used for narcotics addiction.

Methadone is used in MAT for opioid addiction to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MAT is the combination of prescription medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorder. Methadone decreases the sensation of pain and diminishes the emotional response to pain. It also impacts the pleasure centers in the brain and creates a false sense of well-being. Methadone is highly physically addictive, especially when taken in high doses.

How Does Methadone Work?

Methadone eliminates withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings by acting on the opioid receptors in the brain. These are the same receptors that are activated by other opioids, such as heroin. Methadone has gradual onset of actions to help produce stable levels in the brain. As a result, methadone does not cause the “rush” that other opioids do and, in turn, reduces the desire to use. If an individual using methadone tried to take opioids simultaneously, the euphoric effects would be dampened or suppressed. Those using methadone do not experience the physiological or behavioral abnormalities from rapid fluctuations in drug levels associated with opioid use.

The Addictive Properties of Methadone

Methadone has sedative effects, which may be seen as euphoric to some. These effects are limited compared to other opioid euphoria, but significant enough that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classified methadone users as “not fit to drive.” People who use methadone to treat opioid use disorders are at higher risk of developing methadone misuse due to their history of opioid dependency. For some, methadone is their substance of choice. Methadone misuse is classified as taking more than the amount prescribed or using it without a prescription. In high doses of methadone, an actual “high” can be created. The effects of methadone are also increased based on the method of administration. Side effects of methadone use include:

  • Sedation
  • Euphoria
  • Decrease in attention span and reaction time
  • Drowsiness
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased body temperature and blood pressure
How to Know if You Need a Methadone Detox

Long-term methadone use may lead to the development of tolerance, as well as psychical and psychological dependence. Once the body becomes dependent on the drug, it becomes difficult to function normally without it. When stopping the use of methadone, someone may experience withdrawal symptoms. Excessive doses of the substance may also lead to respiratory depression. Others may be using methadone as a part of MAT and may wish to cease using the substance and discover a new path to sobriety.

Methadone has a wide range of potentially fatal effects. Detoxing from methadone can be extremely dangerous without proper medical care. Someone can learn if they need a methadone detox by seeking professional medical assistance from a qualified medical provider.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Methadone

Methadone detox can be uncomfortable and potentially fatal. Methadone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Inability to sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Cravings
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Coma
Why Gallus Medical Detox Centers Don’t Use Methadone

At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we ensure our patients do not develop cross-addiction. The defining factor of cross-addiction is a person having two or more addictive behaviors. Cross-addiction is very often accidental and due to a lack of awareness. When someone is addicted or dependent on a particular drug or alcohol, prescribing them a new drug like methadone can be dangerous. Moreover, if someone uses a substance that they have no experience with, they may think they can use it without becoming addicted. Addiction or dependency may develop slowly with moderate use but has the possibility of progressing. To provide safe and effective medical detox, we implement The Gallus Method. Key features of The Gallus Method include IV therapy, individual treatment plans, 24/7 medical supervision, cardiac telemetry, and video technology.

Methadone is a medication that is typically used to treat opioid use disorder. Despite its popularity in medication-assisted treatment, it is highly addictive. It blocks the effects of opioids, such as heroin, but has different effects that may cause addiction or dependency. In high doses, methadone can create a “high” and sedation feelings that may be euphoric to some. Methadone use has potentially fatal effects, and detoxing from it can be dangerous. At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we provide personalized, effective treatment to ensure your safety when withdrawing from methadone. Withdrawal symptoms may be uncomfortable and frightening. We use proprietary, evidence-based medical protocols that prioritize our patients’ comfort and safety to guide them through the detox process. Our personalized treatment is delivered in a safe and peaceful environment. Our expert medical staff uses The Gallus Method to personalize treatment and promote optimum comfort and ease for the individual. The Gallus Method includes IV therapy, cardiac and video monitoring, daily physician visits, and 24/7 medical staffing. If you or a loved one struggles with a methadone addiction or wishes to find a new path to recovery, call Gallus Medical Detox Centers at (866) 296-5242.