Methadone Addiction and Abuse

When trying to quit heroin, you are likely to experience a number of withdrawal symptoms that can range in severity from mild to severe. You may be prescribed methadone to help relieve the heroin withdrawal. You will learn more about methadone and how it works in the following paragraphs.

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid medication that is regularly used as a heroin replacement drug for those detoxing from the drug. The idea of using methadone as part of a drug replacement therapy programme is that it can lessen the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin and other narcotic drugs, without creating the same high.

To be effective as a heroin replacement drug in a detox programme, methadone should be prescribed in tapering doses before being stopped altogether. Depending on the treatment provider and the severity of your addiction, you might be prescribed methadone for less than a month, or you may be required to take it for a longer period.

Methadone is also used to treat severe or chronic pain in cancer patients.

Brand Names

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased sweating
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Muscle cramps

Although most side effects will subside when your body gets used to the methadone, you should consult your doctor if the symptoms persist or become severe. You should also contact your doctor if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, including:

  • swelling of the lips, face, throat, or mouth
  • difficulty breathing
  • rash
  • hives

Can You Just Stop Taking Methadone?

You should not stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor. Stopping the medication suddenly can lead to withdrawal symptoms. You will need to taper off your doses under careful instruction from a doctor.

Facts/Statistics

  • Methadone is typically taken in liquid form when used as a heroin-replacement drug.
  • Methadone is a Class A drug meaning it is illegal to possess, sell, or give to another person.
  • As a treatment for a heroin addiction, methadone will be taken under supervision. Hence, if you are found in possession of the drug, you could face up to seven years in prison.
  • It is also available as a tablet or as ampoules for IV use.
  • Giving the drug to another person either for free or for money can result in a life sentence.
  • Street methadone is often much more concentrated and therefore much stronger than prescribed methadone. Taking this could result in an overdose, which can end up being life-threatening.
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