Methadone is a prescription medication that is used to treat severe pain. It also helps those addicted to heroin to cease their use of the drug without experiencing horrendous withdrawal symptoms. Since heroin causes an excess of dopamine to be released into the brain, addicts feel a constant need for the drug to maintain this high. Methadone satisfies this need for an opiate without the euphoria associated with heroin.
While users of methadone are ultimately transferring their dependence from one drug to another, they become more stable and no longer experience urgent impulses to take heroin. Once the desire to take heroin is completely diminished, patients are then weaned off of the methadone, although this process can sometimes take several years to complete.
Effects of Methadone
Methadone side effects can vary greatly and should be closely monitored. Symptoms that are typical of methadone users include upset stomach, headache, drowsiness, constipation, dry mouth, insomnia, decreased sex drive and excessive sweating. Severe side effects should be reported to your doctor. These methadone side effects include lightheadedness, swelling of extremities, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing and chest pain.
A methadone overdose can be very serious. Should someone you know exhibit the symptoms, call 911 or poison control immediately. Warning signs of a methadone overdose include loss of consciousness, coma, difficulty breathing, extremely small pupils, clammy skin and loss of muscle tone.
It should also be noted that methadone has a high interaction ratio with other drugs. For instance, Elavil is the brand name for amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant. Taking both Elavil and methadone can be potentially hazardous. A methadone interaction with Elavil could cause a dangerously high dose of methadone to be released into your system, causing an overdose. Should an overdose not occur, it is still highly likely that once the Elavil exits your system, withdrawal symptoms will be experienced for the high levels of methadone that were previously experienced.
Symptoms of methadone withdrawal include dilated pupils, irritability, stomach pain, fever, sweating, runny nose and eyes and nausea.
Signs of Methadone Addiction.
As with any addiction, someone with a methadone addiction will do whatever it takes to continue taking the drug. Some may make their doctors believe they require a higher dosage of methadone, while others may “double up” on their dosages. Still others may continue to take heroin and use methadone as a “topper” of sorts. Methadone is addictive, and most who begin taking methadone as a means of ceasing an addiction to heroin or another opiate become addicted to the new drug. Tolerance and dependence develops, creating the need for a methadone detox program, which can take much longer to complete than many other rehabilitation programs.