Drug addiction being a disease or not continues to be an ongoing discussion amidst the epidemic sweeping the nation. While some believe that drug addiction is a choice, studies and statements from leading medical institutions are proving otherwise and it’s reshaping our perspective on drug addiction as a whole. The National Institute on Drug Abuse… read more
What is Methadone?
Methadone is an opioid medication and also referred as a narcotic. The drug reduces withdrawal symptoms for users undergoing heroin and other narcotic drug rehabilitation treatment. For rehab cases, methadone relieves pain and serves as a part of detoxification process without causing the ‘high’ associated with addiction. Only certified pharmacies can administer methadone for maintenance programs as a part of rehab treatment. Methadone maintenance therapy of MMT is a common type of opiate abuse treatment.
One should not compare methadone with mephedrone or methamphetamine, which both drugs are classified under a stimulant type of drug.
History of Methadone
IG Farben, a giant pharmaceutical company first synthesized methadone in their laboratory in Germany in 1939. Some people believed that this was part of Hitler’s plan as an effort to become independent from influences of foreign countries. Initially, German scientists develop the drug because of opium shortage during the World War II. However, despite reports of its side effects, the drug eventually marketed and sales grew within a small span of time.
When the war ended, most German patents and important assets were confiscated and distributed to the allies. The US Department of Commerce and Intelligence Division brought the drug to the country. It was later approved as a painkiller in 1947.
What causes methadone addiction?
Some people tend to abuse methadone build tolerance rapidly to the drug. Despite the manufacturer’s claim that the drug contains ‘little risk for addiction’, it has the potential for it. People began to use methadone recreationally.
In the country, methadone is used for opiate addiction but users soon returned to their addiction once treatment was over. The drug’s properties may not be fully understood until studies show that it can still provide positive effects for opiate users.
Methadone Side Effects
Methadone drastically slows down reactions, one of the main characteristics of its side effects. Users may appear more lethargic and movements look exaggerated. It is a deadly condition as accidents may happen anytime because of the slowed reaction time.
Other side effects include:
- erratic mood swings
- Pinpoint pupils
- Respiratory depression
- inflammation of the skin
- signs of toxicity
- the appearance of illness
Can methadone induce addiction?
Some health care facilities use methadone as a treatment for opiate abuse. They need methadone as a substitute drug for users who stops taking their original choice of drug abuse. As a long-acting drug life, methadone is easy to administer and easy to take.
Treating patients with drug addiction often require decreasing their intense cravings in continue seeking out their drug of choice. Methadone can help ease those cravings but without providing too much risk. The drug comes readily available and because of its price, it remains as the perfect choice for some rehab centers. However, methadone abuse is still common.
Even though methadone does not produce the same intense ‘high’ compared to other opiates, it still has some potential for abuse. Because methadone provides an effect similar to opiates like:
- reduction of anxiety
However, methadone usually provides more good than harm for hundreds of people who need treatment for opiate abuse. Although the drug contains potential harmful effects, it is easy to reduce dosages and can still administer even in relatively high doses.
Short-Term Effects of Methadone
If taken as prescribed by a doctor, methadone is safe. Unfortunately, it made its way as a drug of choice for drug abusers.
Once users take methadone, it acts like heroin but with less intense and has a longer-acting drug life. The effects can last up to 24 hours, its effect includes:
- feelings of euphoria
Long-Term Effects of Methadone
Prolonged chronic abuse of methadone can produce side effects as deadly as heroin addiction provides. Methadone can produce heart problems just like opiates and causes impaired judgment. Other long-term effects of the drug include:
- drug tolerance
- the physical dependence that may lead to withdrawal symptoms
- lung and respiratory complications
- cardiac problems
- neurological effects like memory problems
- menstrual problems (women)
- low blood pressure
- swelling of the eyes, mouth, throat, face or tongue
Although it is uncommon, methadone overdose can occur particularly for users who combine it with other illicit drugs. When combined with alcohol and benzodiazepines, increases the chance for a drug overdose.
Signs and symptoms of drug overdose
- low blood pressure
- difficulty breathing
- slow or shallow breathing
- twitching muscles
- bluish tint color of fingernails and lips
- sudden death
Facts about Methadone
- Even though less potent compare to heroin, methadone is regarded as highly addictive drug
- According to the FDA, methadone usually stays in the system up to 59 hours. Heroin drug life is about 4 to 5 hours.
- Unlike other drugs, users cannot tell if methadone still has some effects on them, which can lead to a drug overdose.
- When combined with other drugs and alcohol methadone acts as a deadly poison that can result in sudden death.
- Withdrawing from methadone is often more difficult than dealing with withdrawal from heroin.
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