Methadone is beneficial treatment method for those who are long-term heroin and other opioid abusers. The medication can curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and patients can even stay on it for years if necessary. But sticking with your methadone dosage is important and can help protect you from some of the issues patients can experience from this treatment.
Just like any other type of medication, sticking to your dosage matters with methadone. The NLM states that one should not “take a larger dose, take it more often, or take it for a longer period of time or in a different way than prescribed by [their] doctor.” This is true for any medication, but especially so for methadone.
No matter what, you must follow the methadone dosage that was prescribed to you. In some instances, individuals will experience side effects or other symptoms which may cause issues for them. In this case, they should discuss them with their doctor. Other times, patients do not feel that their methadone dosage is treating them effectively. This may be because they need a higher dosage. However, you must never up your dosage on your own and should always consult a doctor first.
Issues of Lowering Your Methadone Dosage
The common dosage, according to the CDC, is 60-120 mg/day. “Compared to those on lower doses, patients on higher doses are shown to stay in treatment longer, use less heroin and other drugs, and have lower incidence of HIV infection.” In some cases, “some patients need even higher doses for fully effective treatment.”
Lowering your dosage on your own can be extremely problematic to your overall recovery. You may think that you need less of the drug than you were prescribed, or that you are ready to go off of it, but you should not change the amount you’re taking before discussing it with your doctor. You could experience many issues from this, as withdrawal and cravings could suddenly hit you more strongly than you expected. It is important not to lower your dosage without discussing it with your doctor.
Issues of Upping Your Methadone Dosage
Upping your methadone dosage without discussing it with your doctor first is a form of drug abuse. Many people may do this because they abused opioids in the past and may start to relapse. It is important not to do so as it can lead to:
- Abuse of and eventual addiction to methadone, as it can be extremely addictive
- Overdose and possible death from taking too much methadone at once, especially if your tolerance has lowered significantly
- A rise in dangerous, violent, or risky behavior in order to get more methadone or because you are intoxicated
Abusing methadone by taking more than prescribed can be just as dangerous as abusing any other opioid drug.
The CDC states that there is “compelling evidence that doses need to be determined on an individual basis.” This means that if you were given a specific dosage, you should stick to it. If there is an issue, discussing it with your doctor can help you make changes and fix the situation safely, but you should never stray from your methadone dosage on your own.