Thursday July 31st 2014

Is methadone addictive?

YES. Methadone is addictive.

But how methadone works for opiate addiction doesn’t necessarily make methadone addictive. Basically, if you seek a methadone high, methadone addiction is possible. If you take methadone as prescribed, you’re not likely to become a methadone “addict”. We’ll review more here and we invite your questions about the addictive potential of methadone (or any relevant question about methadone) at the end.

What is methadone used for?

A narcotic painkiller, methadone is used to help manage pain that is moderate to severe in nature. However, methadone is primarily used in the detoxification and maintenance of opiate dependence, particularly heroin. Methadone alters the body’s perception of pain by binding to opiate receptors in the brain. Methadone also lessens the symptoms of opiate withdrawal and can block the effects of opiate drugs. While a methadone dose for addiction can occasionally cause feelings of euphoria, along with dizziness, lightheadedness, and even mood changes, euphoric effect is less frequently experienced by people who take methadone as prescribed.

What is methadone made of?

Methadone, or 6-dimethylamino-4.4-diphenyl-3-heptanone, is a synthetic opioid that blocks the effects of heroin and other prescription drugs containing opiates.   In other words, methadone is a synthetic, man-made version of opiates that is created in laboratories.

How addictive is methadone?

While methadone can cause physical dependence, it is not as addictive as other opiate and opioid substances. However, methadone’s strong effects on the central nervous system can cause it to be frequently abused in an attempt to “get high”. While methadone has been used for decades to treat individuals who suffer from addiction and dependence on heroin and narcotic pain medicines, when taken as prescribed, methadone is safe and effective. Still, methadone is available only with a doctor’s prescription.

Methadone dependence vs. addiction

Methadone dependence is not necessarily the same as methadone addiction. Using methadone responsibly and for legitimate medical reasons can still lead to a dependence on the medication. A dependence simply means that person is unable to stop taking methadone without side effects.

An addiction is more complicated than a simple dependence. An addict will experience the same withdrawal effects, combined with strong cravings for the drug, and compulsive use of the drug, despite negative consequences.

How do you get addicted to methadone?

If you’re taking methadone as directed by your doctor, you probably don’t have a problem with methadone even if you’re dependent. But if you’re taking larger doses than prescribed to try to achieve psychoactive effects, you’re misusing the drug. You’re also much more likely to become addicted this way. You’re at a higher risk of methadone addiction if you’ve been addicted to other drugs or alcohol in the past.

If you make a conscious decision to misuse methadone, it’s very likely you’ll become addicted. Some ways that people misuse and abuse methadone are:

chewing, snorting or injecting methadone pills

taking methadone without a prescription

Signs of methadone addiction

It’s true that methadone dependence and addiction can be hard to tell apart. But methadone addiction involves a psychological craving for the drug. You may be addicted to methadone if you need to take it to deal with daily stress. Other signs of methadone addiction include:

  • Continued use and abuse of methadone despite negative life consequences
  • Craving methadone and using methadone compulsively
  • Seeking methadone in order to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain

Methadone addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about methadone addiction potential? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference sources: CDC Vital Signs Prescription Painkiller Overdoses: Use and Abuse of Methadone as a Painkiller
NIDA International Program Methadone Research Web Guide: Can methadone and buprenorphine be abused?
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: How to Use Methadone Safely
ToxNet: Methadone
Medline Plus: Methadone Oral
PubChem: Methadone

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10 Responses to “Is methadone addictive?
Avi Satz
12:30 am August 24th, 2012

This is probably one of the most controversial question amongst people in the recovery community. I recently started a linked in discussion with addiction professionals surrounding this specific topic, the responses were interesting (to say the least). I believe the proper use of methadone treatment is helpful perhaps to some, but it is addictive, requires detoxification to get off of and definitely pulls from the spiritual aspect of recovery. I definitely think that it should not be administered to young adults! Young adults shouldn’t be prescribed methadone.

chris
7:16 pm September 7th, 2012

Methadone has run my life untll 60 days ago i was g on methadone for 7 yrs i was on 60mg and i detoxed with subutex for 8 days and jus stopped hardest thing by far i ever did and its day 60 my doc says im still going through withdrawl if yr not on itand yr on roxycodone or perc or hydro its a hell of alot to get off that then methadone xanax and methadone is the devil ive been on everything under the sun and xanax and methadone had a death grip on me

12:17 pm September 9th, 2012

Hi Chris. Thanks for sharing about your experience with methadone. Congratulations on getting through detox. Did anything in particular help you manage the symptoms of methadone withdrawal?

chris
4:58 am September 10th, 2012

Only thing really helped was god and my family but im much happier now

alexsisnz
2:38 am November 26th, 2012

hi ther im on the methadone programme here in new zealand its a hard area to breach and many disagree with it!! i personally thin that it is very addictive but i was a iv morphine user for 8years before i got onto the methadone programme and it saved my life!! i was on the streets as a sex worker i was stealing to support me and my abbusive partner, i was robbed, luckily never raped or hurt phsycically but there had been 3 murders of working girls here since i started working and the night the last girl disappeared she was working on the corner up from me it so easily couldve been me that got taken and killed but it wasnt so yeah as i said methadone saved my life!! its hard at times and i know its gonna be very hard to come off but i wouldnt have my buetiful 2year old son if it wasnt for the methadone and id hate to think where i could have been now if not for it!! so for me it was a blessing as for alot of others, wher i live christchurch nz is apparently the opiate capital of austrilsia(i dont know about that) and i have alot of friends on the methadone they have sorted their lives out and even 2of them are coming off and 1 other has got down to 5mg a day so it can be done it helps alot of addicts get their lives back!!

The Truth
8:18 pm January 22nd, 2013

Methadone should not be legal. People do and will always abuse this system! it’s ridiculous. If a patient in the UK can’t be prescribed marijuana (scientifically proven to have no physical addiction) as a medicinal drug then why recommend a drug that is addictive and far worse????

Please someone answer me this because I feel this really makes no sense at all.

Nancy
6:43 pm June 17th, 2013

I recently posted a comment regarding the death of my daughter from an accidental overdose of oxycodone. I have to tell you on her path through pain mgmt, Methadone was by far the most debilitating of all the medicines prescribed for her to treat back pain. She went through withdrawal cold turkey and it ruined her teeth. She had a beautiful smile but you can’t regrow enamel. Hers was a long journey in the treatment of pain but it also shortened her life. If you take opiates for a long tlme you will have repercussions. They end up hurting you physically and psychologically. Life really is too short!

Luke Thomas
4:40 pm September 14th, 2013

Substituting one addiction with another. Sweet.

Nancy
5:44 pm September 16th, 2013

I apologize for leaving out this little bit of information. There was no trading of one addiction for another. “Sometimes when people have surgery they require pain medication. ” So was the case for my daughter, after recent surgery to repair her tibia wth a steel rod and 9 screws. There is nothing Sweet about that.

Tim
6:10 am June 18th, 2014

I agree with Luke.I was taking morphine for pain management but switched over to methadone but isn’t it just replacing one addiction for another? I always thought methadone was to get off of opiates but now Isee that when the time comes to stop methadone (Itake for pain by the way) it’s going to be just as hard as it would be with morphine. Fortunately for me I didn’t have the withdrawal from morphine because I went from it straiht to the methadone.

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