Methadone And How Does It Work

Methadone is one of three FDA-approved drugs for opioid use disorder, along with buprenorphine and naltrexone (OUD).

12/26/20223 min read

Methadone is one of three FDA-approved drugs for opioid use disorder, along with buprenorphine and naltrexone (OUD). Methadone is an opioid agonist that attaches to opioid receptors in the brain and fills them with the same substance as opioids do. Methadone suppresses the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that would occur if those receptors were empty in patients with OUD.

Methadone is a drug that is used in medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to help patients cut down or stop using heroin and other opiates. Methadone has been used to treat heroin and opioid pain medication addiction for decades. It is safe and effective when taken as directed. It enables people to overcome their addictions and resume active and fulfilling lives. Patients should also take part in a comprehensive medication-assisted therapy (MAT) program that combines counseling and social support for the best results.

What Is Methadone and How Does It Work?

Methadone affects the brain and neurological system's response to pain. It reduces opiate withdrawal symptoms and prevents the euphoric effects of opiates like heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Methadone is available as a tablet, liquid, or wafer that is taken once a day. A dose of methadone provides pain relief for four to eight hours. According to SAMHSA's TIP 43: Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs – 2012, larger dosages of methadone are beneficial in helping heroin users stay in treatment programs longer.

Methadone should be provided as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and involvement in social support services, as with all drugs used in medication-assisted therapy (MAT).

Methadone can be given to a patient in a variety of ways.

Patients who are using methadone to treat opioid addiction must do so under the supervision of a doctor. Patients may be allowed to use methadone at home between program appointments after a period of stability (based on progress and confirmed, consistent compliance with the drug dosage). Methadone can only be supplied through a SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment program (OTP).

Treatment for methadone lasts a different amount of time depending on the individual. Methadone treatment should last at least 12 months, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse paper Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide – 2012. Some patients may need treatment for a long time. Even if a patient feels ready to stop using methadone, it must be done gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. A doctor should be involved in such a choice.

Safety Concerns with Methadone

Methadone has the potential to be addictive, thus it must be taken exactly as directed. This is especially crucial for people who are permitted to take methadone at home and are not compelled to take medication at an OTP under supervision. Methadone medication is custom-made for each patient (due to frequent dose adjustments and re-adjustments) and should never be shared or given to others. To ensure that the medicine is used safely, patients should submit their complete medical history to their healthcare providers. Other drugs may interact with methadone, causing heart problems. The active components in methadone linger in the body for much longer after the drug's effects have worn off. Taking more methadone than prescribed can result in an unintended overdose.

The following pointers can assist you in getting the greatest treatment results:

Never take more than the recommended dose, and always take it at the times recommended. Do not take an extra dose of methadone if a dose is missed or if it does not seem to be working. Alcohol should not be consumed while on methadone. On methadone, be cautious when driving or operating machinery.

Make a 911 call.
  • if an overdose is suspected or if too much methadone is taken

  • Take precautions to avoid youngsters from ingesting methadone by accident.

  • Methadone should be kept at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.

  • Flushing unneeded methadone down the toilet is a good way to get rid of it

Methadone Side Effects

Side effects should be regarded seriously because they could suggest a medical emergency. If a patient has any of the following symptoms, they should immediately stop using methadone and notify a doctor or emergency services.

  • Do you have trouble breathing or do you breathe shallowly?

  • Feeling dizzy or faint?

  • Hives or a rash, as well as swelling of the cheeks, lips, tongue, or throat

  • Do you have chest pain?

  • Have a racing or pounding heartbeat?

  • Have you ever had hallucinations or been perplexed?