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Methadone is an opioid agonist that is both an effective and widely used medical treatment and a potentially dangerous drug when abused. While methadone is a vital tool in treating Opioid Use Disorder, it must be only used as prescribed by medical professionals.

What is Methadone?

What is methadone
What is methadone used for?

Methadone is a medication that simulates the effects of opioid drugs. While it can be used to manage severe pain, methadone is more commonly used in treating opioid use disorder and heroin addiction.

Methadone can be seen in various forms, but most commonly is prescribed as either an injectable solution or tablet. The United States government considers methadone to be a Schedule II drug, meaning that although it is proven to be an effective medication for certain conditions, it is also at a high risk of being abused and is habit-forming.

Methadone was created during World War II by German scientists to serve as an alternative to morphine. During battle, morphine was commonly used for pain relief and as an anesthetic during surgeries. However, when they couldn’t keep the supplies of morphine needed during the war, methadone was created in labs to fulfill that role.

After the war, the United States began developing methadone as a pain reliever. Over time, however, it became clear that methadone was one of the most effective ways to treat withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with heroin or opioid addiction.

What is Methadone Used For?

The most common use of methadone is the treatment for an opioid abuse disorder. Methadone is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in medication-assisted treatment programs

Methadone binds to the opioid receptors in the human brain and changes how your brain responds to pain. This reaction can cause a feeling of euphoria and relief. The effects of methadone on the brain are gradual and long-lasting, making it different from most other opioids. The long-lasting effects of methadone make it perfect at curbing cravings associated with opioid addiction and withdrawal. 

Methadone is most commonly distributed through certified clinics. Since methadone is considered a high risk to be abused, people in the early stages of recovery will have to go to clinics and are supervised as they receive their proper dosage to avoid possible problems. 

Not only does methadone help treat symptoms associated with recovery from an opioid abuse disorder, but it also blocks the effects of other drugs. After taking methadone, opioids such as heroin or oxycontin will not give users the “high” they seek. This aspect is another reason methadone can be such an essential tool during the early stages of recovery.

Methadone is not a cure for addiction but rather helps in the treatment of symptoms associated with recovery. When properly used, methadone use should be just one step of a broader treatment plan. In medically-assisted treatment programs, methadone is commonly used for at least the first year of recovery.

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Is Methadone an Opioid?

Methadone is considered a full opioid agonist. An opioid agonist is a drug that binds to the opiate receptors of the human brain. Methadone is regarded as a full opioid agonist because it affects the brain as opioids such as heroin or morphine. There are partial opioid agonists, such as buprenorphine, that bind to the opiate receptors in the same way but to significantly weaker effects. 

Methadone is a fully synthetic opioid, like heroin or fentanyl. This means it has the same reaction in the human body as other opiates but is completely human-made and created within labs, compared to drugs like morphine made from the naturally-occurring opium found in poppy plants.

Can You Overdose on Methadone?

It is possible to overdose on methadone. An excessive dose of methadone could lead to an overdose or the combination of taking other opioids such as heroin or Oxycontin while on methadone.

Symptoms of a methadone overdose can include a slowed heart rate and breathing. It can also cause drowsiness or a loss of consciousness. It is crucial that anyone seeking the symptoms associated with a methadone overdose immediately seek medical professionals’ help. A methadone overdose can be fatal if the person does not receive medical attention.

When used correctly and under the supervision of medical professionals, an overdose should never occur. It is essential to understand the dangers of methadone abuse and only use it as prescribed by your doctor.

Methadone Addiction Treatment

Medication assisted treatment

While methadone can be a valuable treatment to many suffering from an opioid use disorder, it has its dangers as well. Methadone is itself an opioid that can be addictive and has dangerous side effects when abused. The key difference between methadone and many other opioids is that the harmful effects are minimal compared to the potential benefits when used correctly.

If you are suffering from an addiction to methadone, it is essential to find the treatment options that work best for you. Some medically-assisted treatment options may still be available, specifically partial opioid agonists that have weaker effects. However, more likely, it may be best to consider other approaches to recovery.

Dual diagnosis treatment is a helpful tool that works towards your recovery from addiction and examines the underlying mental health challenges that may often be at the root causes of our habits. Group therapy, individual talk therapy, and meeting support can also be helpful aspects of a healthy recovery plan.

If you or a loved one suffer from an addiction to methadone, it is vital to seek out help as soon as possible. Despite methadone being a helpful medication, it can have life-threatening consequences when abused. Please call us today at 866-623-6905 to learn more about potential treatment options.

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