Uses, Side Effects, and Treatment Options

What is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid medication. Opioids are drugs synthetically made, and they are similar to opiates. Opiates are drugs derived from the opium poppy plant.

It is primarily used to help treat people with opiate use disorders addictions. It’s used as a medication to reduce cravings, making it an important tool in battling the opioid crisis in the United States.

A research study on opioid use in the United States found that in 2016:

More than 2.1 million Americans had opioid abuse disorder

Overdose deaths linked to opioids were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999

Heroin use and heroin use disorders are on the rise as Americans substitute heroin for prescription opioids

626,000 Americans had a heroin use disorder 

More than 15,000 people in the US died of a heroin overdose

How is methadone used?

This medication has two main uses:

  • To relieve severe pain
  • To prevent withdrawal symptoms in people with opioid/opiate use disorder

Street Names

According to the DEA, the street names for methadone include:1

Amidone

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fizzies

Maria

Pastora 

Salvia 

Water

FAQ

Is methadone Addictive?

All opioids have the potential for addiction. What makes methadone a less likely candidate is that it is a long-acting opioid. It does not give the quick and intense high like other opioids do, so there is little motivation to abuse methadone.

Class of Drug

It’s in the drug class known as opioid analgesic narcotics. These types of drugs work to change how your body experiences and responds to pain.

Where is methadone on the schedule of drugs?

This medication is classified as a Schedule II drug in the United States. Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse and dependence. Other Schedule II drugs include meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), fentanyl, morphine, codeine and opium.2

Is methadone Safe?

It’s safe as long as it is taken as prescribed by a healthcare professional. If it is misused or abused, it can become as dangerous as any other opioid or opiate drug.

Effects

What are the short-term effects of methadone?

Serious or fatal breathing problems can develop after taking this drug, especially during the first 24 to 72 hours, or any time the dosage is increased. If you experience any breathing problems, seek medical care right away.

Other short-term side effects include:3

Headache

Mood changes

Flushing

Stomach pain

Dry mouth

Dry mouth

Sore tongue

Urination problems

Vision problems

Sleep disturbances 

Weight gain

What are the long-term effects of methadone?

The long-term side effects of taking this drug can include:3

Seizures

Rash

Swelling

Throat hoarsness 

Breathing or swallowing problems 

Drowsiness 

Agitation 

Confusion

Hallucinations 

Fever

Sweating

Rapid heartbeat

Shivers

Muscle tension

Lost of coordination 

Nausea/vomiting 

Diarrhea 

Weakness

Dizziness

Erectile dysfunction 

Irregular menstrual periods

Decreased libido

Can you overdose on methadone?

Overdose is possible on this drug if a larger dose than prescribed is taken or if the drug is recreationally. The symptoms of overdose include:4

Slow or shallow breathing 

Small, pinpoint pupils 

Extreme drowsiness 

Cold, clammy skin

Person “turns blue”

Loss of consciousness

Coma

Limp muscles

How to Quit

How to stop using methadone 

If you are in a methadone program and want to stop using it, talk to your doctor about the best ways to taper down until you are off the drug.

If you are using the drug recreationally, a treatment program is needed to help you stop using the drug properly.

What is withdrawal like?

Withdrawal from this drug is hard and can be dangerous – just as it is with any opioid. A medically supervised detox helps avoid withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

Early withdrawal signs:

Runny nose

Sweating

Muscle aches

Agitation 

Anxiety

Insomnia

Yawning

Later withdrawal signs:

Goosebumps

Diarrhea 

Abdominal cramping

Dilated pupils

Vomiting

Nausea

What are my treatment options?

After a medically supervised detox, medications and counseling are needed for effective recovery. You can attend treatment on an inpatient (residential) or outpatient basis.

Opioid addiction is a dangerous and sometimes deadly condition. If you or a loved one have problems with any opioid, reach out for help right away. Successful recovery is possible.

Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help. 100% Free and Confidential.
1 (866) 338-6925
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
100% Free and Confidential.
1 (866) 338-6925