Dangers of Snorting Methadone
In spite of its use as an opiate addiction treatment, methadone abuse practices follow the same methods and routines used with addictive substances, one of which is snorting. While commonly known as an opiate addiction treatment medication, methadone has also been used as an effective treatment for conditions involving moderate to severe pain symptoms for over 50 years, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.
As an addiction treatment, methadone works well at helping addicts better manage the withdrawal and drug cravings that come with long-term opiate abuse. Methadone works equally well at managing pain symptoms. As with any prescription narcotic drug, abusing methadone all but cancels out the therapeutic benefits of the drug regardless of its intended use.
In general, methadone is specifically formulated to produce measured or controlled effects. Consequently, abusing methadone in oral or tablet form does little in terms of producing a “high” effect, whereas snorting can intensify the drug’s effects. In the process, users open themselves up to a number of dangerous consequences.
The dangers of snorting methadone run the gamut, affecting the body, the mind, and ultimately threatening the user’s life. As with any form of drug abuse, the longer a person continues to snort methadone the greater the risk of physical and psychological damage, not to mention the high likelihood of overdosing.
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Methadone Abuse Rates
Methadone’s use as an opiate addiction treatment falls under tight government regulatory controls and can only be obtained through authorized treatment facilities. Interestingly enough, methadone’s use as a pain treatment falls under the same regulatory controls as any other prescribed drug. These differences account for the continued rise in methadone abuse practices.
As a pain treatment, methadone exists as a generic drug making it considerably less expensive than other types of prescription painkillers. For insurance purposes, this low cost factor has made methadone the preferred pain treatment medication.
According to the New York State of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, only 72 percent of all methadone dispensed is actually used for treatment purposes, while as much as 10 percent is snorted illegally. As of 2009, doctors wrote an estimated two million prescriptions for methadone as a treatment for pain. While the FDA has issued warnings regarding this drug’s abuse potential, methadone prescription rates have continued on unaffected.
Snorting methadone is dangerous. Call 800-530-0431Who Answers? to find help overcoming methadone abuse.
Methadone is a synthetic, opiate drug that’s formulated to produce moderate, long-acting effects. These properties account for the drug’s effectiveness as a pain treatment, delivering up to 12 hours of relief from pain symptoms.
Methadone’s moderate, slow-acting effects also make for an effective replacement therapy in terms of helping addicts wean off addictive opiates. As an opiate-based drug, methadone can easily quench withdrawal and craving effects. Overall, methadone carries a considerably low risk of addiction compared to other addictive opiates.
Methadone’s slow-acting formula enables the drug to build-up in the body while producing continuous pain relief as well as relief from withdrawal symptoms. In effect, methadone stores up in the body’s tissue and fat cells as well as inside the liver. From there, the drug is slowly released back into the bloodstream, which works to prolong its therapeutic effects.
Unfortunately, this drug’s therapeutic benefits directly tie in with the dangers that come with snorting methadone.
Effects of Snorting Methadone
Methadone’s therapeutic effects directly interact with the central nervous system, binding to opiate receptors in the brain and altering the body’s perception of pain. These processes operate according to a time-release mechanism.
Snorting methadone overrides this built-in mechanism, allowing the full dose of the drug to enter the blood stream through the nasal tissues. Users experience the full effects of the drug almost immediately.
Absorbing this much methadone all at once is not unlike ingesting an addictive opiate substance, such as heroin or OxyContin. Under these conditions, the addiction cycle takes hold with full force, starting with physical dependency and eventually leading to the psychological dependency that characterizes addiction.
As some formulations of methadone come in extended-release versions, snorting methadone in this form only works to accelerate the damaging effects of the drug.
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Side Effect Profile
Methadone comes in tablet, liquid and diskette tabs. Since opiate addiction treatment programs typically administer the drug in liquid and/or diskette tabs, snorting methadone requires the tablets, which must be ground up into powder form.
Though tablets contain mostly methadone, other ingredients, such as starch, microcrystalline cellulose and magnesium stearate are also included for consistency purposes. These added ingredients can cause considerable damage along nasal passageways in the form of lesions and eventual respiratory infections.
Methadone carries a side effect profile when used as prescribed. When snorting methadone, side effects come on that much stronger, sometimes bringing about serious medical conditions. Side effects commonly experienced from methadone include –
- Breathing problems
- Mental confusion
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
- Clammy skin
Methadone’s effectiveness as a treatment medication has a lot to do with the time it takes the body to metabolize the drug. Methadone has a long half-life that can run anywhere from eight to 59 hours depending on a person’s metabolism rate.
In cases where a person takes other types of medications or abuses other types of drugs, methadone metabolism rates can change dramatically. When snorting methadone, the dangers associated with drug interactions are many.
Drugs that have a slowing effect on the central nervous system, such as sedatives and alcohol only work to intensify methadone’s effects, especially when it’s snorted. Drugs that speed up central nervous system functions, such as stimulants can actually prolong methadone metabolism processes to the point where the methadone reaches toxic levels in the bloodstream.
Overdose & Death
As with form of opiate abuse, the risk of overdose and death becomes the most serious and likely danger associated with snorting methadone. Methadone exists as one of the four most deadly medications on the market, along with hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, fatality rates associated with methadone abuse include –
- 5,000 methadone-related deaths occur within any given year
- Rates of methadone overdose and death increased six fold in 2009 compared to the decade before
- Methadone poisoning accounted for one out of every three deaths caused by prescription painkillers
Methadone’s ability to slow central nervous system functions coupled with its long-half life makes for a deadly combination that can quickly result in overdose. Snorting methadone not only delivers massive amounts of the drug into the body all at once, but also causes a rapid buildup of methadone in system. These combined factors carry an incredibly high potential for overdose, and even death.
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