What is Methadone?

June 26, 2024

Discover 'what is methadone?', its benefits, risks, and role in healthcare - your guide to healing.

Never miss an opportunity

Contact Samba Recovery Today

Understanding Methadone

To comprehend the role and benefits of methadone in addiction treatment and pain management, it's crucial to understand what methadone is and its historical usage.

Definition and Purpose

Methadone is a synthetic opioid agonist that plays a vital role in the treatment of opioid use disorder [1]. This medication acts on opioid receptors in the brain slowly and does not produce euphoria in opioid-dependent individuals, making it beneficial for recovery from heroin or prescription opioid use disorder.

In addition to its role in addiction treatment, methadone is also used in pain management. It can provide relief from pain by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain [2]. It's also used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in patients who were addicted to opiate drugs and are enrolled in treatment programs in order to stop taking or continue not taking the drugs.

History and Usage

Methadone has been used successfully for more than 40 years to treat opioid use disorder by eliminating withdrawal symptoms and relieving drug cravings. It must be dispensed through specialized opioid treatment programs.

Methadone also blocks the high from drugs like codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone, thus reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It is a medication used to treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and is a long-acting full opioid agonist. Methadone is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for pain management.

Understanding methadone's definition, purpose, history, and usage is essential in comprehending its role in modern healthcare, particularly in the fields of addiction treatment and pain management.

Methadone Treatment

Understanding 'what is methadone?' involves exploring its role in treatment, particularly in the context of opioid use disorder (OUD). This section will delve into the pharmacotherapy process of methadone and dosage considerations for optimal results.

Pharmacotherapy Process

Methadone serves as a critical element in pharmacotherapy for individuals recovering from opioid addiction. Methadone maintenance therapy reduces illicit heroin use, decreases the incidence of infectious diseases, reduces criminal activity, improves social outcomes, and reduces mortality.

Methadone helps individuals in recovery to achieve and sustain recovery, reclaim active and meaningful lives, and is part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral health therapies.

Dosage Considerations

Determining the proper dosage of methadone plays a crucial role in its effectiveness as a treatment. The range of effective methadone dosages for the treatment of opioid dependence is broad, and treating clinicians should titrate doses to full effect in each individual patient. Dosing guidelines should include advice on appropriate processes of dosage determination.

Patients receiving methadone doses of greater than 60mg per day were found to be less likely to use or inject drugs than patients receiving doses of less than 60mg per day.

However, it's worth noting that patients receiving methadone treatment for OUD must work with their practitioner to gradually reduce their methadone dosage to prevent withdrawal. The minimum recommended length of methadone treatment is 12 months per the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Dosage Effect
< 60mg/day More likely to use or inject drugs
> 60mg/day Less likely to use or inject drugs

Understanding these dosage considerations and working closely with healthcare professionals can help individuals make the most of methadone treatment in their recovery journey.

Effects and Absorption

The effects of methadone and its absorption rate are critical factors that define its role in opioid use disorder treatment and pain management. This section will delve into the health benefits of methadone and its absorption and peak levels.

Health Benefits

Methadone, a synthetic opioid agonist, has been used successfully for more than 40 years to treat opioid use disorder [1]. It can help reduce some of the health concerns and risk behaviors that come with opioid use, such as preventing opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone is used to treat addiction to heroin or narcotic painkillers. It provides relief from pain by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It also blocks the high from drugs like codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone, thus reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings [2].

Methadone is also used to relieve severe and persistent pain in people who are expected to need an opioid pain medication around the clock for a long time and who cannot be treated with other medications.

Moreover, methadone maintenance therapy reduces illicit heroin use, decreases the incidence of infectious diseases, reduces criminal activity, improves social outcomes, and reduces mortality.

It is worth noting that methadone maintenance during pregnancy leads to longer gestational periods, higher birth weights, and a lower risk of fetal exposure to infectious diseases contracted through needle sharing [5].

Absorption and Peak Levels

Methadone acts on opioid receptors in the brain slowly and does not produce euphoria in opioid-dependent individuals, making it beneficial for recovery from heroin or prescription opioid use disorder [1].

The slow and steady absorption of methadone is what makes it effective in managing opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It provides a stable level of the medication in the body, which helps individuals in recovery to achieve and sustain recovery, reclaim active and meaningful lives, and is part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral health therapies.

The absorption and peak levels of methadone, along with its health benefits, make it an essential part of opioid use disorder treatment and pain management. However, it's important to remember that methadone should be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider and as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Risks and Considerations

While methadone can be a valuable tool in treating opioid use disorder and managing pain, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and considerations associated with its use. This includes understanding the potential for overdose and side effects, as well as the risk of dependence and tolerance.

Overdose and Side Effects

Like any other opioid medication, methadone carries a potential for overdose, particularly if too much is taken or if it is taken with other drugs. Methadone's long duration of action and accumulation in the body make it a risk factor for overdose, especially in patients who are not tolerant to methadone. A methadone overdose can cause apnea, respiratory failure, and hypoxia, leading to coma, seizures, hypotension, and death.

Methadone can also cause various side effects, including slowed breathing, slowed or irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, feeling faint or dizzy, and confusion. In some cases, methadone can cause serious allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis, which may be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include rash, itching, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, and swelling of the hands, face, or mouth.

Dependency and Tolerance

Another important consideration when using methadone is the risk of developing dependence and tolerance. Dependence refers to the body's physical need for the drug, while tolerance involves needing higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects.

Methadone can lead to both dependence and tolerance, where the body may need higher doses to feel the same effects. Sudden changes in dosage can lead to dangerous side effects or overdose, which can be fatal. Therefore, it is important to use methadone as directed by a medical professional and to communicate any changes in the drug's effectiveness or any side effects experienced.

In conclusion, while methadone can provide significant benefits in the treatment of opioid use disorder and pain management, it is important to understand the associated risks and to use the medication responsibly. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice regarding the use of methadone.

Forms and Administration

Understanding the various forms and administration methods of methadone is crucial for those who are prescribed this medication. Methadone is available in diverse forms such as tablets, powders, and liquids, and its administration methods vary according to these forms.

Tablet, Powder, Liquid

Methadone comes in three primary forms, each with its own method of administration. According to MedlinePlus, methadone is available as a standard tablet, a dispersible tablet (which can be dissolved in liquid), a solution (liquid), and a concentrated solution.

The dispersible tablet form should be swallowed whole and should not be crushed, broken, chewed, or dissolved, as stated by the Mayo Clinic.

Form Administration Method
Tablet Swallowed whole
Dispersible Tablet Swallowed whole, can be dissolved in liquid
Solution (Liquid) Taken orally
Concentrated Solution Taken orally

Prescription and Usage Guidelines

Methadone should only be used with a prescription and following the exact dosage instructions is highly recommended. As per WebMD, individuals taking methadone for addiction treatment should use it for at least a year while working on recovery.

When methadone is used to relieve pain, it may be taken every 8 to 12 hours. If you take methadone as part of a treatment program, your doctor will prescribe the dosing schedule that is best for you MedlinePlus.

The dose of methadone prescribed will vary for different patients based on individual needs, the strength of the medicine, the frequency of doses, and the duration of treatment, all of which should be strictly followed as per the doctor's instructions Mayo Clinic.

Methadone should be taken only as directed by a doctor, without exceeding the prescribed dosage or duration. This is especially important for elderly patients who may be more sensitive to the effects of pain medicines and have a higher risk of developing habit-forming tendencies Mayo Clinic.

In conclusion, it's crucial to follow all usage guidelines and prescription instructions when taking methadone, to ensure its effectiveness and mitigate any potential risks or side effects.

Methadone in Health Care

Methadone, a synthetic opioid agonist, has significant roles within the healthcare sector, primarily in pain management and the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Both applications stem from methadone's unique properties and its ability to alleviate pain and curb withdrawal symptoms and cravings related to opioid addiction.

Pain Management

Methadone is used to relieve severe and persistent pain in individuals who require an opioid pain medication around the clock for a prolonged period and cannot be treated with other medications. It is not employed to treat mild or moderate pain, short-term pain, or pain that can be controlled by medication taken as needed.

Methadone is considered a viable therapeutic alternative to morphine sulfate and other opiate analgesics in the treatment of severe, chronic pain [5]. Despite its efficacy, it is crucial to remember that methadone, like other opioids, can lead to dependence and must be used under the careful supervision of a healthcare provider.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Methadone is also utilized in the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). The drug is a long-acting full opioid agonist approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose, as well as for pain management.

Methadone has been used successfully for over 40 years to treat opioid use disorder by eliminating withdrawal symptoms and relieving drug cravings. Its use must be dispensed through specialized opioid treatment programs.

In addition to helping individuals in recovery achieve and sustain recovery, methadone is part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral health therapies. This approach aids individuals in reclaiming active and meaningful lives.

Understanding the roles of methadone in health care allows for a comprehensive view of its benefits and potential risks. Its applications in pain management and the treatment of OUD highlight the importance of this medication in contemporary health care, particularly in managing chronic pain and aiding individuals on their path to recovery.

References

[1]: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/how-do-medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction-work

[2]: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/what-is-methadone

[3]: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682134.html

[4]: https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/medications-counseling-related-conditions/methadone

[5]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070723/

[6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360079/

[7]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310658/

[8]: https://adf.org.au/insights/methadone-works-legal/

[9]: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/methadone-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20075806?p=1

start your recovery today

Samba Recovery never miss an opportunity

Substance abuse doesn’t have to be a life sentence! Sustainable recovery is possible and the best version of youself awaits at our Norcross addiction recovery center.

We’ll help you learn that the opposite of addiction is connection. We’ll give you skills to discover your self-worth and show you the tools for a life of hope and promise.

Contact us today!

Our team is ready to help!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

We accept most major insurances

We partner with most major insurances, enabling you to access premier therapy services.