Methadone is a synthetic opioid used in the treatment of opiate addiction. It is useful in substance abuse treatment because it possesses a cross-tolerance with other opiates such as heroin and OxyContin and its effects are long lasting. This means methadone decreases the response to harmful illicit drugs and can do so for up to 36 hours. Methadone can stabilize the symptoms of withdrawal and, in higher doses, it can block the euphoric effects of heroin, morphine, and similar drugs. As a result, properly managed methadone patients can reduce or stop their use of these substances altogether.
According to the Office of National Drug Policy Control, Methadone is a safe and efficacious treatment of narcotic dependence and withdrawal. This synthetic narcotic has been used to treat opiate addiction for over thirty years.
Is Methadone Safe?
YES. Research and clinical study, particularly the ongoing work at Rockefeller University, has demonstrated the unequivocal medical safety of long-term methadone; there are no serious adverse effects, no harmful medication interactions, and it is safe for pregnant women.
Are there any serious adverse effects with methadone?
NO. When taken as prescribed, long-term administration of methadone causes no adverse effects to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, bones, brain, or other vital body organs. Side effects such as constipation, water retention, drowsiness, skin rash, excessive sweating and reported change in sexual drive may or may not occur in the initial stages of treatment. These symptoms generally subside or disappear as methadone dosage is adjusted and stabilized, or when simple medical interventions are initiated.
Is methadone a substitution of one drug for another?
NO. Methadone is not a substitute for opioids or any other short-acting opioid, and does not affect individuals in the same way. Methadone does not create a pleasurable or euphoric feeling; rather it relieves physiological opioid craving and is generally chosen by opioid-dependent individuals. Opioid addiction can be compared to other chronic diseases like diabetes. Methadone for the Opiate-addicted person is like insulin for the diabetic. Addiction doesn’t go away on its own, and only gets worse without proper treatment.
Does methadone impair mental function?
NO. Methadone has no adverse effects on intelligence, mental capability, or employability. Methadone treated patients are comparable to non-patients in reaction time, in ability to learn, focus, and make complex judgments. Methadone treated patients do well in a wide array of vocational endeavors, including professional positions, service occupations, and skilled, technical and support jobs. One recent study tested methadone patient’s cognition, perceptual and motor functioning, reaction time, and attentional function, as well as performance of automobile driving behavior. It was concluded, confirming previous findings, that methadone does not impair functional capacity.