Doctors sometimes prescribe methadone for those suffering moderate to severe pain. Typically methadone is prescribed in specific instances such as pain associated with cancer treatment.
Its use is intended for people pain management troubles who aren't responding well to other medications. Because it acts on the same opioid receptors as morphine and heroin, it is commonly used to help ease withdrawals symptoms in patients undergoing medically assisted detox for an opioid addiction.
Taking prescribed methadone in the proper medical situations and with proper monitoring is safe, but when methadone is used without a prescription or not taken according to the prescription, a methadone abuse disorder may develop.
Methadone is a synthetic, man-made opiate created in laboratories for the specific purpose of alleviating the side effects of opiate withdrawal. Because it is often used as a gateway treatment for those with more serious opiate addictions, such as heroin or morphine, methadone is not regulated as heavily as other prescription pain reducers.
Methadone does not produce the euphoric high associated with other opiates such as heroin and morphine. In fact, it is medically used to block these effects and ease the transition from opioid abuse and dependency during the detox process. While this can be beneficial, the potential for methadone addiction still exists, especially in patients with prior history of substance abuse.
Methadone abuse may begin as an attempt to produce the euphoria commonly associated with opiate abuse. However, the nature of Methadone's chemical composition prevents these desired effects.Even without the euphoria, methadone may produce a high for new users.
Signs of methadone abuse include:
- unusual sleep patterns
- skin rashes
- dry mouth
- lack of appetite
- fainting and dizziness
Many of the signs of methadone abuse are similar to other opiates. Those concerned that a loved one may be abusing methadone should look for methadone withdrawal symptoms, which include yawning, muscle aches, restlessness and dilated pupils. When attempting to stop methadone abuse, your loved one may sweat and their eyes may tear. If withdrawal proceeds, people experiencing methadone addiction will have trouble sleeping, and may suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
If you're taking methadone as directed by a doctor, your odds of developing an addiction are low. However, you should always be alert to potential methadone dependence and abuse. Taking larger doses than prescribed for psychoactive effects is an early sign of developing addiction should this behavior continue.
A continued conscious decision to misuse methadone results in addiction. Methadone abuse and addiction takes the form of chewing, snorting, or injecting methadone pills and taking methadone without a prescription.
As with any opiate used for a legitimate purpose, however, addiction is an unpredictable side effect, as one cannot anticipate addiction though certain factors may increase one's risk.. Even when the drug is used properly as a pain reliever, patients can develop a tolerance, which may lead one to seek out more of the drug.
Methadone addiction involves a psychological and/or physical craving for the drug and its effects. If you take methadone to deal with life stress, this may be an indication of psychological dependency. Other signs of methadone addiction include:
- Using or abusing methadone despite negative life consequences
- Craving methadone or using it compulsively
- Taking methadone for pleasure or for a high
- Habitual use of methadone to prevent withdrawal symptoms