Methadone Abuse and Effects on the Body

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Abuse of prescription opioids is a growing problem. The number of methadone pain pills distributed now exceeds liquid methadone used in opioid treatment. Learn about the methadone abuse and effects on the body.

Methadone is part of a category called opioids. It was created by German doctors during World War II. When it arrived in the United States, it was used to treat people with extreme pain. Today, your doctor may use it as part of your treatment for an addiction to heroin or narcotic painkillers.

It works a lot like morphine does. You can take it as a tablet, a powder, or a liquid. It must be prescribed by a doctor. People who take it illegally often inject it, which exposes them to diseases like HIV.  Even though it’s safer than some other narcotics, your doctor should keep a close watch on you while you take Methadone. Taking it can lead to addiction or abuse.

What are the effects of Methadone Abuse?

Methadone changes the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain so that you feel relief.  Methadone helps if you’re in treatment for addiction to other opioids. It can give a similar feeling and prevent withdrawal symptoms. You may hear this called replacement therapy. Methadone replaces the opioids in your system with milder effects.

What are the dangers of Methadone?

Side effects:

With short-term use, you may notice:

  • Restlessness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slow breathing
  • Itchy skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Constipation
  • Sexual problems

Some methadone side effects are more serious. Call the doctor if you:

  • Have trouble breathing or can only take shallow breaths
  • Feel lightheaded or faint
  • Get hives or a rash
  • Have swollen lips, tongue, throat, or face
  • Have chest pain or a rapid heartbeat
  • Have hallucinations or feel confused

If you use the drug for a long time, it might lead to lung and breathing problems. It can also change a woman’s menstrual cycle. If you get pregnant, talk to your doctor about changing your dose. It can cause complications.

What are the risks of Methadone?

Some people cannot take Methadone.  Consult your physician if you have:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart rhythm disorder
  • An imbalance of electrolytes
  • Lung disease or breathing problems
  • History of head injuries, seizures or a brain tumor
  • Liver or Kidney disease
  • A problem urinating
  • Thyroid, Gallbladder or Pancreas issues
  • If you are taking sedatives
  • Addiction – your brain may begin to rely on the pain relief it provides
Methadone facts according to the Drug Enforcement Administration
  • In 2012, almost 2.5 million people over the age of 12 reported abusing Methadone in their lifetime–marking an increase from 2.1 million in 2011.
  • In 2011, more than 65,000 emergency room visits were related to Methadone use.
  • From 1999 to 2005, Methadone overdose deaths increased by about 460%.

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