June 23, 2018

Methadone Side Effects

Methadone is a synthetic analgesic that is typically used to treat chronic pain and opiate addiction. Methadone is usually administered to individuals who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms due to an addiction to powerful narcotics, such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone and other opioids. With discontinuation of narcotics, addicts may experience severe withdrawal symptoms that include fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea and intense aches and pains. When taken properly, methadone can relieve the symptoms of opiate withdrawal without producing the euphoric effects of other narcotics.

Methadone is used in a number of different ways. In some addicts, it is used for an indefinite amount of time in order to maintain sobriety from other opiates. In others, methadone is only administered for a short while, and patients are given smaller and smaller dosages until they are weaned off the drug completely. Treatment methods differ due to severity of addiction, and also due to individual methods of different physicians.

Side Effects of Methadone

While methadone is generally considered a safer alternative to illicit narcotics, it does come with the risk of several side effects. Side effects are typically most intense at the beginning of a methadone treatment regimen, and sometimes taper as the body becomes accustomed to the drug.

The following are common side effects associated with methadone:

– Dizziness
– Drowsiness
– Dry mouth
– Damage to the teeth and gums
– Constipation
– Difficulty urinating
– Euphoria
– Confusion
– Increased dependence

Less common, and more harmful, side effects of methadone are:

– Difficulty breathing
– Damage to the liver and kidneys
– Hallucinations
– Intense drowsiness or difficulty staying awake during the day
– Irregular heartbeat
– Respiratory failure

Drug Interactions

Methadone may pose several health risks if mixed with other drugs. For example, drugs that cause drowsiness can be extremely dangerous if taken in conjunction with methadone. Mixing these drugs can lead to respiratory failure and death, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

The following are items that could possibly interact negatively with methadone:

– St. John’s wort
– HIV drugs and other antiviral medications
– Cipro and some other types of antibiotics
– Barbiturates
– Pain relievers, both prescription and over-the-counter
– Anti-anxiety drugs, including OTC medications and herbal remedies
– Cold, allergy and sinus medications
– Drugs and herbs used to treat insomnia
– Anti-seizure medications
– Alcohol
– Illicit drugs

Methadone and Pregnancy

During pregnancy, methadone is usually preferable to both illicit drug abuse and the risks associated with opiate withdrawal and detox. Withdrawal symptoms can lead to harm for both mother and baby, and can even cause miscarriage. However, methadone crosses the placenta and enters the baby’s bloodstream, which causes some newborns to be born dependent on the drug. In these cases, infants are given very small, tapering doses of methadone to relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Precautions

Ideally, methadone should only be used by individuals who have an intense dependency to narcotics. Casual drug users would likely experience more methadone side effects dangerharm than good from a methadone regimen, and should therefore avoid the drug in favor of other treatment methods. Further, to improve chances of recovery, methadone patients should combine drug treatment with psychotherapy or other types of counseling.

Increased dependency and tolerance is a major concern for methadone patients. Like other opiates, methadone often causes users to build up a tolerance for the drug. This means patients need more and more of the drug in order to experience the initial effects. Increased tolerance to methadone could lead to addiction, which is evidenced through signs of physical dependence. Signs of methadone addiction include intense cravings for the drug, as well as typical opiate withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, methadone treatment may not be the best option for addicts looking to become completely independent of all drugs and substances.

Due to the drowsiness and dizziness associated with methadone, patients should take extreme caution when driving or operating machinery, especially during the first phases of treatment. If extreme drowsiness or dizziness occur, a decrease in dosage may be in order.

If you are taking methadone and experience any of these side effects, contact a doctor immediately. In the event of an overdose, allergic reaction or other adverse occurrence, seeking medical help immediately can greatly reduce the risks of serious injury or death.