Facts About Methadone
The following information is only intended to provide you with common knowledge about Methadone. After reading this, you may consult your counselor or the nursing staff if you have any questions or comments.
Methadone is a narcotic agonist. This means that methadone works in specific areas in your brain and spinal system to reduce/eliminate the effects of the opiates, ("pain pills" or heroin) that you take. Methadone is a medication. It is not a "miracle cure," but if used appropriately, can significantly after the life someone suffering from opiate addiction for the better.
The clinic physician prescribes methadone to relieve opiate withdrawal symptoms and reduce the cravings for opiates. Studies have shown that if withdrawal symptoms and cravings are reduced with methadone, people suffering from opiate addiction can effectively engage in rehabilitative activities such as working, taking care of their families and enjoying social activities. Methadone does not relieve cravings for drugs other than opiates.
When used in proper doses in maintenance treatment, methadone does not create
euphoria, sedation or an analgesic effect. To reach a therapeutic dose, you will work closely with the medical staff and your counselor on adjusting your dose to meet you individualized needs. To achieve this therapeutic dose, it is very important that you dose daily. Missed doses can lead to opiate withdrawal and cravings and lead to relapse.
The liver metabolizes (breaks down and processes) methadone, but methadone does not "harm" the liver. Methadone is actually much easier for the liver to metabolize than many other types of medications.
Methadone does not damage the immune system. In fact, several studies suggest that HIV-positive people who are taking methadone are healthier and live longer then those who are still using illicit opiates.
Possible side effects and adverse reactions
People have been taking methadone for more than 30 years, and there has been noevidence that long-term use causes any physical damage. Some people do suffer some side effects from methadone—such as constipation, increased sweating and dry mouth- but these usually go away over time or with dose adjustments. Other effects, such as menstrual abnormalities and decreased sexual desire, have been reported by some people but have not been clearly linked to methadone use. Adverse reactions are rare, but can occur such as an allergic reaction, excessive sedation ("too sleepy") or respiratory distress (problems breathing). Methadone is used for replacement therapy. The addiction/chemical dependency already existed in your body before methadone was administered.
Thus, you will develop a physical dependence on methadone and treatment should not be discontinued abruptly and without medical supervision.