Snorting Methadone: Dangers And Side Effects

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 10, 2021

Methadone is an opioid typically used in addiction treatment for people with substance use disorders involving other opioids. People that snort methadone are at an increased risk of negative physical effects including drug addiction, dependence, and overdose.

Snorting Methadone (Insufflation)

Methadone is a commonly used opioid drug for managing opioid withdrawals in a supervised inpatient or outpatient methadone treatment setting. It is a synthetic opioid that was initially created to help manage post-operative pain.

People that abuse methadone may choose to snort it or use intravenous injection for more instantaneous effects.

The fast onset of methadone’s impact on the body — approximately 30 minutes — may intensify adverse side effects.

Side Effects Of Snorting Methadone

When administered appropriately, methadone works as an analgesic without producing the same euphoria typical of opiates like oxycodone (Oxycontin) or heroin.

It stays in the body’s system for upwards of two days after administration, which helps a person addicted to opiates manage cravings.

Because methadone is a central nervous system depressant, even when it is used as prescribed, it can have adverse effects on vital systems.

A person that abuses methadone by snorting it may have a more intense or greater number of adverse effects.

Short-term side effects include:

  • insomnia
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • stomach pain
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • constipation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • problems urinating
  • sexual dysfunction
  • vision problems
  • liver toxicity
  • facial swelling

Physical Effects Of Snorting Drugs Like Methadone

Snorting any drug will cause damage to the nose and throat. When drugs like methadone are crushed and snorted over long periods of time, more lasting damage may occur.

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Immediate effects may include crusty skin inside the nose, nose bleeds, nasal drip, and hoarse throat.

Other lasting side effects of snorting drugs like methadone include:

  • nose bleeds
  • ear and facial pain/swelling
  • runny nose or congestion
  • mouth ulcers
  • trouble swallowing
  • throat damage
  • hoarse throat
  • damage to the nasal septum, sinuses, and mucous membranes

Long-Term Effects Of Snorting Methadone

Methadone is very commonly involved in opioid overdose deaths. Some people may use other central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines or alcohol alongside methadone.

This can compound dangerously low respiration and heart rates that can be caused by snorting methadone.

A person that abuses drugs meant to assist in recovery, like methadone or buprenorphine complicates their path to a full recovery from addiction.

The risk of extensive physical effects from prolonged methadone abuse cannot be overstated. However, the mental and emotional toll that occurs when abusing methadone can be just as challenging.

Snorting Methadone Can Increase Risk Of Overdose

When a person crushes and snorts extended-release methadone tablets, they experience a more pronounced, but short-lived opioid high.

If they continue to take methadone after the perceived effects have worn off, then this increases the chance of methadone overdose.

Overdose can also happen when other depressants are used alongside methadone. Results can be both uncomfortable and potentially deadly.

Overdose effects may include:

  • respiratory depression
  • coma
  • agitation
  • confusion
  • extreme drowsiness
  • cold or clammy skin
  • changes in pupil size (pinpoint pupils)
  • lethargy
  • decreased heart rate

For an opioid overdose, one of the most effective pharmaceutical treatments is naloxone. Naloxone is commonly referred to by its brand name, Narcan.

Methadone Withdrawal

Many people that have become addicted and dependent on methadone have already faced the challenge of opioid addiction and withdrawals.

Both the emotional addiction and physical dependence associated with regular methadone use are difficult to manage without medical intervention.

Addictions are typically addressed by behavioral therapies, which can give people the tools to control future behavior and reinforce positive behavior as part of positive-reward feedback.

Managing withdrawal symptoms due to physical dependence is typically accomplished with a combination of therapy and supervised medical tapering.

Because methadone stays in the body for a long time, withdrawals are typically not felt until two days after it has last been used. Withdrawal symptoms can last up to three weeks.

People undergoing methadone withdrawals may experience:

  • high blood pressure
  • fast heart rate
  • trouble sleeping
  • cramps
  • anxiety
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • sweating
  • goosebumps
  • muscle spasms
  • pain

Medication-Assisted Detox

Although methadone is typically used to stem opioid withdrawals, there are still good drug interventions to help provide a typical treatment for methadone abuse.

The opioid agonist Clonidine has been used successfully as part of a supervised taper to ease withdrawals in around two to three weeks.

Other medications include buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that displaces methadone at the opioid receptor and helps prevent relapses.

Buprenorphine combined with naloxone (Suboxone), can also help manage withdrawals and deny any “reward” if a person takes methadone or other opioids while maintaining sobriety.

Methadone Substance Abuse Treatment Options

If you or a loved one struggles with opioid addiction and have been abusing methadone, it is possible to get back on track. Opioid recovery is a daily process and we’re here to help.

Call one of our addiction specialists to see what treatment program will best suit your situation. Our range of outpatient and inpatient treatment programs can help move forward with a life away from addiction and dependence.

Life-threatening opioid use is a serious concern. We’re here to help you live free from drug use – and the time to get started is now.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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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.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 10, 2021

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