Many people still wonder if quitting opioid abuse by using methadone or another type of maintenance drug is merely replacing one addiction for another. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these medications “are prescribed or administered under monitored, controlled conditions and are safe and effective for treating opioid addiction when used as directed.” But is it methadone a safe medication when taken for this purpose?
Side Effects of Methadone
Methadone is a safe medication, and it is much safer to be maintained on this drug than to continue abusing opioids or to go through severe withdrawal without any kind of medical assistance. This goes for most individuals, including pregnant women, long-term addicts, adolescents, and incarcerated persons. However, like all medications, methadone does have certain side effects that can be problematic. According to the National Library of Medicine, the common side effects are similar to those of other opioid drugs and can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight gain
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth
- Sore tongue
- Difficulty urinating
- Missed menstrual periods
- Decreased sexual desire or ability
- Vision problems
- Mood changes
When an individual is dosed adequately with methadone to treat their opioid addiction, usually these side effects will not be severe. It is still important for patients to talk to their doctor about the side effects they experience from the drug and to determine whether or not they will make it difficult for them to take the medication.
Abuse and Addiction Potential
Methadone, like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and even heroin, is a full opioid agonist, and as such, has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Many individuals attempt to take more than the recommended dosage in order to get high, some of which are relapsing addicts in treatment. This act can be extremely dangerous. If an individual takes a particularly large dosage, they can possibly overdose and experience respiratory depression or stop breathing altogether. Overdose from the drug can lead to brain damage, coma, and death. In addition, a person who abuses methadone too often can become addicted to its effects, as it is habit-forming like other opioid agonists.
For this reason, according to the National Institute of Justice, methadone maintenance treatment “is one of the most monitored and regulated medical treatments in the country.” Patients must be monitored as they take their doses, and the drug cannot be taken in a higher dose than prescribed by a doctor. The medication itself is not dangerous unless taken in extremely high doses and/or abused continuously, and there are many safeguards put into place to help avoid this issue.
Is Methadone Safe?
Being on methadone is much safer than continuing to abuse opioids, and according to Harvard Medical School, “Although it is still politically controversial, this practice has better scientific support than any other treatment for any kind of drug or alcohol addiction.” Much of the concern comes from the possible diversion and abuse of methadone, but as long as a patient takes the medication as their doctor prescribes, it is a very safe option for opioid addiction treatment.
Do You Want to Learn More About Methadone?
We can discuss the medication with you and answer any questions you may have before you begin your methadone treatment regimen. Call 800-530-0431 today.