The Risks of Taking Methadone
If you or a loved one suffer from pain and have been prescribed an opioid such as Methadone, you should know the risks of taking this drug.
Getting off opioids is a difficult task. Whether you started taking them because they were prescribed to you by a doctor after surgery or you were just curious and thought it would be fun, the dependency comes quick, and then the addiction can run your life for many years. Most addicts stay addicted because of the fears of withdrawal. Addicts would rather risk the chance of overdosing than go through withdrawal. It just proves how powerful the disease of addiction is.
Maintenance Drugs For Getting Off Opioids
Many maintenance drugs aid in detoxing or weaning off opioids, such as heroin and oxycodone, be it prescribed or street drugs. However, some think that maintenance drugs are just trading one drug for another in the recovery community and not being sober if you continue to use these maintenance drugs for long periods.
A few maintenance drugs used in today’s opioid crisis are Suboxone, Subutex, and Sublocade. They contain Buprenorphine, an opioid itself, but unlike other opioids, such as heroin and oxycodone, it only partially stimulates the brain’s opioid receptor. This partial binding leads to what is known as a “ceiling effect” for opioid effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression. The ceiling effect makes buprenorphine safer in two key ways: it results in a lower risk of addiction than other opioids and a lower risk of respiratory problems.
Methadone: Old Faithful
Another opioid drug used as a maintenance drug that came around World War II is Methadone. It was created in Germany around World War II to treat pain. It didn’t make its way to the United States till after the war but was not widely used due to the painkillers misunderstood side effects it caused. Unfortunately, like most painkillers, patients started becoming addicted to the drug. It wasn’t until the early ‘90s that it was used regularly to treat other opioid addictions called Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT).
Even though Methadone does not create the “high” or euphoric effect that opioid addicts chase, it does have a sedative effect. You can also grow a tolerance to it, which means you have to take more for the drug to work, which grows into a dependence that turns into an addiction. And where there is an addiction, there is a chance for overdose.
In 2017, about 261,000 people age 12 and older reported using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once in their life. Methadone was responsible for 3,194 overdose deaths in 2017, or about 1 per 100,000 people.4 In 2014, it accounted for 1% of all opioids prescribed for pain but was responsible for 23% of all prescription opioid deaths.
What Are The Risks of Taking Methadone?
Other drugs like heroin or crack work quickly, but the effects don’t last long. The effects of methadone, on the other hand, come on very slowly when swallowed. It takes hours to reach its full effect—and 24 hours or more to wear off. Like heroin, oxycodone, and other opioids, too much methadone can make you go to sleep and stop breathing. The risk of overdose with methadone is especially dangerous if you:
- take someone else’s full dose at once—everyone handles methadone differently, and one person’s dose can kill another person
- take a little bit and then take more later, trying to get high—not understanding that an overdose can happen many hours later
- top methadone up with other drugs to feel high—then, because methadone acts slowly and lasts a long time, you might fall asleep, overdose, and die.
You can die by taking methadone by itself—but it is especially dangerous to take it with other opioids, alcohol, or other sedating drugs like Xanax, Ativan, or Valium.
More About The Risk of Taking Methadone
While there are some positives and successes from Methadone Maintenance Treatment like quitting Illegal street drugs such as heroin and putting yourself at less risk of criminal acts to gain access to drugs, it is still a drug. It might not be as bad in some ways, but you are replacing one addiction with another. Once we’re unable to stop using heroin, now we are unable to stop using methadone. You still depend on it to function. The prescribed minimum for methadone is said to be once every day for a year, and that’s just the minimum. This is no way to live.
Let Evoke Waltham Center Help You!
If opioid addiction is left untreated, the chances of fatality continuously increase. However, if you or someone you love is struggling with the disease of addiction, know that you can be treated, and you can recover from your addiction and lead a happy, fulfilled life. It is time to put the pain and misery of addiction in your past and rebuild your life into something you are proud of. Now is the time to make the change. Let Evoke Waltham help you do it!