Methadone is a FDA–approved treatment for opioid use disorder that is safe when taken as directed by a healthcare provider.
Methadone can effectively relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms, reduce drug cravings, and be taken long-term as a maintenance treatment for addiction to opioids like heroin and oxycodone.
Methadone Safety: What To Know
The safety of taking methadone is a common concern. Although methadone is shown to be beneficial for many people, its use does come with certain risks.
If you or a loved one are taking methadone for chronic pain or opioid addiction, here’s what you need to know about potential risks, dangers, and benefits of methadone.
Misusing Methadone May Lead To Substance Abuse And Addiction
Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication that can be misused for its effects. Generally, clinical supervision is required for methadone use, when taken for opioid use disorder.
Clinical supervision for methadone use can help reduce the risk of methadone misuse and addiction.
Misuse might involve taking higher doses than prescribed, taking doses more often, or taking methadone with other drugs to enhance its effects.
Taking Methadone Can Lead To Drug Dependence
Methadone is a drug that is habit-forming, even when taken as prescribed. This means the body can develop a physical reliance on methadone, resulting in withdrawal with stopped use.
Methadone dependence can be safely managed and is not dangerous by itself. People who take methadone for OUD should tell their doctor if they miss a dose.
Furthermore, do not attempt to make changes to your dosage without first consulting your healthcare provider. This could result in methadone withdrawal symptoms.
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Drug Interactions With Methadone
Methadone can interact with a number of substances, including alcohol, illicit drugs, and some prescription medications.
Before taking methadone, be sure to tell your doctor of any other substances you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Serious side effects can occur from mixing methadone with other depressants (e.g. alcohol, benzodiazepines), including sedation, respiratory depression, and overdose.
Long-Term Use Of Methadone Can Lead To Side Effects
Methadone is safe for long-term use. However, taking methadone for an extended amount of time, particularly in high doses, can lead to long-term effects in some people.
These long-term effects might include:
- drug dependence
- changes in mood
- weight gain
- sexual dysfunction
Unsafe Use Of The Medication Risks Methadone Overdose
Overdose is a serious condition that can occur if someone takes an extremely high dose of methadone, takes doses too often, or mixes methadone with other drugs to get high.
Overdose is unlikely to occur when the drug is taken as prescribed by a doctor. Signs of overdose might include difficulty breathing, confusion, and extreme sedation.
Safe Use Of Methadone For Opioid Use Disorder
All prescription medications carry some risks. Methadone is no different. Methadone can be safely taken for either short-term use or long-term use.
Most important is to take the drug as directed by a doctor. Staying in regular contact with your doctor, and keeping them informed of any side effects, can help prevent health risks and dangers.
Find Methadone Treatment For Opioid Addiction Today
Methadone is commonly prescribed as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan for opioid addiction, alongside substance use counseling and social support services.
Medication-assisted treatment with methadone is one of the leading treatments for opioid addiction. If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids, we may be able to help.
Call our helpline today to learn more about methadone and to find opioid addiction treatment options at a treatment center near you.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Methadone
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Methadone
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Methadone