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Methadone Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Methadone is known for its role in treating opioid addiction. While methadone has positive effects, it also poses a risk of abuse and addiction, which can be harmful if not addressed.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid commonly used for pain relief and or as an addiction medicine for medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Due to its relatively low cost, doctors often prescribe methadone to those suffering from chronic pain. However, this frequent exposure has caused a significant rise in methadone addiction and abuse.

Methadone for MAT

When used as a prescribed pain medication for MAT, methadone helps individuals dependent on heroin or prescription painkillers to withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Methadone works by binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids target and changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain.

Methadone takes longer than other opioids to activate in the brain, blocking the euphoric effects and helping to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone Addiction and Abuse

Despite its therapeutic qualities, methadone carries a significant risk of abuse and addiction. Some individuals may misuse the drug by taking a higher dose of methadone than prescribed or combining it with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines to enhance its effects.

Those with a history of substance abuse or co-occurring mental health disorders may have a higher risk of developing a methadone addiction. Additionally, individuals with a family history of substance abuse and those who use methadone alongside other substances, such as consuming alcohol while taking methadone, may be more susceptible to long-term addiction or abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Methadone Abuse

Methadone abuse can increase the risk of overdose, so it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of methadone abuse before it’s too late. Some common indicators include:

  • Changes in behavior, such as social withdrawal and neglecting responsibilities.
  • Physical symptoms, including drowsiness, nausea, constipation, headache, or blurry vision.
  • Psychological symptoms, including mood swings, anxiety, or depression.

Side Effects of Methadone Use

Side effects of methadone use depend on various factors, including the amount ingested, duration of use, individual health status, and concurrent medication or substance use. The most common side effects of methadone use include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sweating
  • Skin rashes
  • Breathing problems
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Hormonal changes
  • Tolerance and dependence

Methadone Treatment Options

Effective methadone addiction treatment involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support. Additionally, methadone treatment plans must be customized to address the unique needs of each patient. The most common treatment options for methadone addiction include:


Because methadone is an opioid medication, treatment plans often include a complete detox. During the detox process, individuals are slowly tapered off of the drug, alongside medical supervision, to help the body adjust until the drug is fully out of their system. While the duration and severity of methadone withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, individuals detoxing from methadone use often experience intense cravings, stomach pain, muscle aches, insomnia, and flu-like symptoms.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT programs for methadone addiction include prescribing buprenorphine to help users safely withdraw from methadone. Buprenorphine activates the same receptors in the brain as methadone, but to a lesser degree, helping to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings without the increased risk.

Counseling and Therapy

Various forms of therapy help treat drug addiction and abuse by addressing the underlying cause of one’s addiction and providing coping mechanisms and tools for long-lasting recovery. Common therapeutic practices include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, family or group therapy, contingency management, and mindfulness or holistic therapies.

Support Groups

Participating in support groups such as the 12-step program Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can help individuals overcome methadone addiction by providing a sense of community, encouragement, and accountability required for a lasting and successful recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Many individuals struggling with drug abuse, including methadone addiction, may also be living with co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. Dual diagnosis treatment helps to address both addiction and mental health issues simultaneously, providing the necessary tools to address triggers and foster long-term recovery.

Methadone Abuse Support and Aftercare

Methadone addiction recovery is a lifelong journey that requires ongoing support and aftercare practices. After undergoing their treatment program, individuals may seek additional support and aftercare, including:

  • Continued Therapy: One-on-one counseling sessions or group therapy play a crucial role in aftercare by providing individuals with continued support, guidance, and coping skills to navigate recovery.
  • Peer Support Networks: Maintaining connections with peers in recovery through support groups helps provide ongoing encouragement, accountability, and guidance for long-term success.
  • Regular Follow-Up Care: Regular check-ups and medication management help individuals stay on track with their recovery goals and address any challenges that may arise, including co-occurring mental health disorders and treatment.
  • Mindfulness Practices: Activities that promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, such as yoga, meditation, and hobbies, support overall recovery and relapse prevention.

Methadone Addiction Treatment at Mandala Healing Center

Despite its use for helping treat opioid addiction, methadone poses significant risks of abuse and addiction when misused. Medical guidance and support for overcoming methadone addiction can help navigate the withdrawal process for a safe effective recovery.

If you or a loved one are suffering from methadone abuse or addiction, we can help. Our dedicated team at Mandala Healing Center works alongside you to create a comprehensive treatment, including medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and support services, to help individuals overcome methadone addiction and reclaim their lives. To learn more about our options for methadone addiction treatment, contact us today. We can’t wait to help you on your journey to recovery.