Methadone - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Methadone: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is methadone?

Methadone is a medication used to manage severe pain. It belongs to the opioid family and is a synthetic molecule. It is an agonist of µ-opioid receptors (MOR) and antagonist of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Methadone has a long half-life and lower toxicity compared with other members of the opioid family. It is a prescription drug available as a tablet and liquid for oral intake, as well as available as injectable formulations.

What are the uses of methadone?

  • Doctors prescribe methadone to treat severe pain when other medications do not work. Its analgesic effect lasts for 24 hours, and you cannot use the medication on an as-needed basis. 
  • It blocks withdrawal symptoms, sedation, sweating, etc., experienced with the other opioid medications and prevents you from getting high while still producing the required analgesia and similar feelings. 
  • Methadone is a part of the opioid de-addiction treatment programme. 
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What are the side effects of methadone?

Common side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Slow breathing
  • Restlessness

Serious side effects:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Circulatory collapse (failure of the blood circulation system either cardiac or peripheral)
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Hallucination
  • Confusion
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeats)

At prescribed doses, most of the side effects experienced are self-limiting, and as your body adapts to the medication, it resolves these side effects within a few days. However, an accidental or intentional overdose can lead to serious and life-threatening side effects


Frequently Asked Questions about Methadone

1. How does methadone prevent euphoria?

Methadone blocks the euphoria caused by opiates, though it is an opioid similar to other classical opiates. It acts on the receptors in the brain and the nervous system to block the high feeling and the sensation of pleasure. Moreover, methadone is a part of the opiate de-addiction programme.

2. What should you not take with methadone?

You should not take methadone with alcohol because it can lead to life-threatening conditions. Furthermore, you should not take it with anticonvulsant drugs (phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin, etc.), antiviral drugs (abacavir, ritonavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine, etc.) and antibiotics (rifampicin, rifabutin, etc.). Consult our doctors for expert opinions on how and when to use methadone.

3. What is the onset of methadone?

Methadone is a unique opioid drug with a delayed onset because its effects start around 30-45 minutes after its oral intake. The peak effect is also delayed and appears approximately 2-4 hours after its intake. Methadone starts depositing in tissues and gives a steady-state effect in approximately 3-7 days.

4. Is methadone considered a pain medication?

Methadone belongs to the opioid (narcotic) medication family, and it produces significant analgesia. It is used as a pain medication for severe pain when other drugs do not work effectively. It produces analgesic effects that last for 24 hours and is a potent pain medication. Consult our expert doctors for pain management in various conditions.

5. How many times a day can you take methadone?

Methadone is a prescription drug, and you should take it as indicated by your doctor. It is a regulated medication, and doctors can prescribe it 2-3 times a day depending on your condition. Your doctor may adjust its dose and frequency as you become tolerant to the medication. One of the precautions is not to take an overdose of it.

6. Does methadone raise blood pressure?

As methadone is an opioid drug, it lowers blood pressure and causes hypotension like other opiates. However, there is limited evidence that it can raise blood pressure. It interacts with blood pressure medications and reduces their efficacy. If you experience increased blood pressure, consult our experts for the best medical opinion.

7. Does methadone cause sedation?

Sedation is one of the side effects associated with methadone; however, you get accustomed to it. The reason is methadone is an opiate drug that acts on the brain and the nervous system. However, you should not take it with other sedation-causing drugs because this can worsen sedation.

8. Does methadone cause liver damage?

Methadone is not associated with significant hepatotoxicity or liver damage at prescribed doses. However, an accidental or intentional overdose can cause liver injury or increase liver enzymes, but limited information is available to support this phenomenon. Consult our experts for the best medical opinions on the use of methadone and the management of adverse events associated with it.

9. Does methadone make your face break out?

At prescribed doses, methadone may not cause any significant skin changes to your face or other body parts. Although skin rashes, itchiness, hives, sweating or skin redness may occur in some people, there is limited data to support that your face may break out after taking methadone.

10. Why does methadone make me so sleepy?

Methadone acts on the central nervous system and the brain to induce sleepiness and sedation. It acts on various receptors and neurotransmitters that affect sleep regulation, leading to increased drowsiness and sleepiness. An overdose can cause excessive sleepiness. Consult our doctors for expert opinions on the use of methadone.



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      Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.