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Methadone Addiction Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects

Even though methadone is a prescription drug with therapeutic uses, its addictive potential is very high. A number of deaths have been associated with methadone abuse in the past. It should not be used without a proper prescription and expert supervision in any case. The signs and symptoms of methadone abuse may be similar to that of other opioids. If you suspect a loved one of abusing methadone, look for these signs and symptoms to be sure.

Methadone Addiction Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects

Table of Contents:

  • Signs of methadone addiction
  • Physical and mental symptoms of methadone abuse
  • Long term health effects of methadone addiction
  • Is it possible to overdose on methadone?
  • How much amount of methadone is too much?

Signs of Methadone Addiction:

Methadone is a slow release substance with a relatively long half life. So the effects of methadone do not become obvious as soon as it is taken. Its half life is 22 hours and it takes quite long for the drug to leave the body. Here a few signs that maybe an indication of methadone addiction:

  • Tolerance: Tolerance is one of the earliest signs of addiction. It takes more than usual amounts of the drug to produce the same effects when the tolerance has been developed.
  • Cravings: When the drug is not taken, cravings are produced forcing the user to turn back to the drug.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Unpleasant symptoms start to appear when the usage of the drug is quit.
  • Prioritizing methadone: The user becomes unable to give up on the drug and start taking it at the cost of important things in his life such as relationships, career and so on.

Physical and Mental Symptoms of Methadone Abuse:

Methadone abuse affects every aspect of a user’s life. The effects produced by it mainly depend upon its dosage amounts. When taken in low quantities, adverse effects are usually not experienced and the user is able to perform his day to day duties. However, at high amounts, physical and mental symptoms of abuse can become bothersome.

The common physical and mental symptoms associated with methadone abuse include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Trouble urinating
  • Weight changes
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vision problems
  • Decreased sexual performance/ changes in sex drive
  • Trouble sleeping/ disturbed sleep
  • Disturbances in menstrual cycle
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Sore tongue and difficulty swallowing
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hallucinations

The severity of these symptoms may vary from one user to the other depending upon his genetic disposition and the amount of the drug taken and the period of time the drug was abused for. If many of these symptoms are experienced by the user, it may be an indicative of addiction.

Long Term Health Effects of Methadone Addiction:

Methadone addiction is a dangerous condition that is associated with both short term and long term side effects. Using methadone for therapeutic purposes under supervision may not produce long term effects but when it is abused for long periods of time, the health effects can be devastating.

  • Long term use of methadone is associated with permanent damage to respiratory system due to its depressant qualities.
  • Methadone abuse suppresses production of a sex hormone ‘testosterone’. It leads to reproductive problems in both men and women. Women may experience disturbed menstrual cycles or they may stop menstruating at all.
  • There may be a decrease in sex drive for both men and women. As a result, there is a disturbed sex life.
  • The long term effects produced by methadone on brain may include impairment of cognitive abilities and problems with memory.
  • Methadone may also produce long term changes in mood and behavior of the user.

Apart from these health issues, methadone may change overall personality and social behavior of the user. Drug addiction is a curse that spares no aspect of a user’s life. It is important to seek help before it is too late.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Methadone?

Yes, it is pretty much possible to overdose on methadone. Just like any other drug, when it is taken in significantly high amounts, the body fails to detoxify it as quick as it is being consumed that results into toxicity that can be deadly.

  • There is a great potential to overdose on methadone since it take some time to produce its effects. An inexperienced person may end up thinking he has not taken enough methadone to produce its effects and may keep taking more and more until overdose is resulted.
  • Methadone overdose can be intentional or accidental. For example, toddlers or mentally unstable people may end up taking the drug being unaware of its consequences. Intentional overdose maybe due to an attempt to commit suicide.
  • The potential to overdose on methadone increases when it is taken in combination with other central nervous depressants such as alcohol, benzodiazepines or drugs with sedative effects.
  • Development of tolerance is another driving force for overdose. The user may take increased amounts of the drug in an attempt to experience the desired effects.

Methadone is a particularly dangerous drug because it tends to accumulated in the body.

How Much Amount of Methadone is too Much?

It is commonly asked question by the users. The amount of methadone that may result into toxicity varies from the user to user. For a new user, amounts as small as 25mg can prove to be fatal. However, for people who have developed tolerance, a dose as high as 200mg is taken to produce deadly effects.

It is slow acting drug with a potential to build up in the body. It may take as long as 10 hours before the effects of overdose become obvious to the user.


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