Does Methadone Maintenance Cause Side Effects?

Methadone maintenance is a treatment option that people can stay on for months or even years at a time, and sometimes for the rest of their lives. While a number of people take advantage of this option, others only stay in the program for the general yearlong period recommended as the minimum length of treatment. Either way, it is important for patients to understand the general side effects the drug can cause.

General Side Effects of Methadone

Side Effects

Nausea and stomach pain are common side effects of methadone.

Just like any drug, prescription-based or illicit, methadone causes certain side effects. Some of these may be more common than others, but a person is likely to experience at least some side effects when taking methadone every day in maintenance doses. According to the National Library of Medicine, methadone can commonly cause these side effects:

  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Stomach pain
  • Temporary rashes on the skin
  • Water retention
  • Nightmares
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore tongue
  • Sweating
  • Flushing
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Mood changes
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Decreased sexual desire or ability
  • Missed menstrual periods

Usually, most of these can be treated by lowering the dosage of methadone being given to the patient. If this is not an option (as optimal methadone doses are needed to combat withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and other issues associated with opioid addiction), the individual may be given a different medication to treat various symptoms. Issues like constipation are usually the most complained of, and there are medications that can treat this symptom specifically that your doctor may prescribe you.

None of these side effects, in most cases, present a serious problem for the patient if and when they occur. If they do begin to become a problem, if they worsen over time, or if they do not go away, the patient is urged to discuss them with their doctor and see how they may be treated.

Long-term Side Effects of Methadone

Because a large number of users are encouraged to stay on the medication for a long period of time, many wonder if there are long-term side effects associated with methadone use and if the drug is safe when used over a long period of time.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Methadone prescribed in high doses for a long period of time has no toxic effects and only minimal side effects for adult patients maintained in treatment for up to 14 years and for adolescent patients treated for up to 5 years.” If a person decides to stay on the drug for a long period of time, this does not usually cause severe side effects or consequences, and the individual will likely only complain of the mild effects listed above.

Methadone Maintenance for Opioid Addiction Treatment

Methadone maintenance is a safe and effective treatment option for opioid addiction with mild side effects that can usually be treated easily. If you would like to learn more about methadone maintenance or find a treatment center in your area, call 866-312-5827Who Answers? today.

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