Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication. It’s used legally in the treatment of opioid addiction such as addiction to heroin, morphine and drugs of that nature. In some cases it’s used as a pain medication for severe and chronic pain. It can be taken orally or administered via injection. This medication was first synthesized in 1939 and has been legal in the United States since 1947, after a long research chain. However, in recent years it has been abused quite commonly and there are even street names for it. Some of the street names for methadone are Amidone, Chocolate chip cookies (which is a combination of methadone, heroin and MDMA), Fizzies and Wafer. This particular narcotic generally shouldn’t be trusted with anyone who has a history of drug abuse aside from those prescribed for it that are undergoing a drug addiction detoxification program. The reason for this is that methadone is actually habit-forming and powerfully so. The Treatment Episode Data Set revealed that the number of methadone abusers (which includes other opiates as well) went from 28,235 in 2000 to 36,265 in 2001. That’s an increase of 8,030 people who abused methadone in one year, most of which were Caucasian (roughly 50% male, and 50% female). Another statistic worth mentioning, reported by the Drug Abuse Warning Network, is that there were 10,725 emergency department visits related to methadone in 2001 which happens to be 37% more than the year prior.
This is an intense drug and has a long list of side effects which are both unusual and vile. Some of these side effects are: dizziness, drowsiness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, black tarry stools, bleeding gums, blood in urine or stools, blurry vision, change in skin color, confusion, convulsion, cough, dry mouth, extreme fatigue, fainting, irregular heartbeat, headache, itching, increased thirst, loss of appetite, muscle pain, muscle cramping, pale or blue lips, puffiness or swelling around eyes, seizures, sleeping difficulty, urination difficulty, bleeding or bruising and weight gain. As for things which might occur when someone’s body is adjusting to methadone, the side effects are: absent, missed or irregular menstrual periods, anxiety, blurry or loss of vision, confusion about yourself or surroundings, constipation, decreased libido, a disturbed perception of color, double vision, false sense of well-being, seeing halos around lights, an inability to get or keep an erection, irritability, loss of strength, night blindness, lights appearing overly bright, restlessness, tunnel vision, weight change, welts, redness and swelling or sores on the tongue. As you can see, some of these side effects are quite peculiar but also seem a bit risky for a medication whose use is to get someone off of something like heroin.
There’s an interesting factor in methadone that seems to fly in the teeth of its intended purpose (that general purpose which is getting an addict un-addicted). And that factor is: methadone is essentially an addictive drug. It has an intrinsic addictive quality to it. There have been many stories of people getting addicted, and as statistics show in the first paragraph, the numbers are only growing. Another fact about methadone that is actually pretty ironic is that there are literally clinics now that work solely with methadone addicts. Methadone addiction is such a serious narcotic that most of these methadone clinics will turn down users which are dependent on very high dosages. In other words, a majority of these clinics have a methadone dosage limit because of how heavy and severe detox and withdrawal is. This goes to show just how far an addiction to said medication can go. There are several different addiction warning signs worth mentioning. One of the first warning signs is tolerance. If the person’s tolerance of this substance keeps rising, this is indicative of a problem. Another sign is when the person getting addicted seems to be taking more and more in an uncontrollable manner. They most likely will start to lie about the level of pain they’re in to the doctor just so that they can be given a higher prescription.
A rather severe withdrawal process is an incidental condition with methadone addiction, once the person decides to get off the substance either slowly or abruptly. Whichever route is taken, you can be sure that it’s going to be quite a tough one. The withdrawal symptoms are extremely painful and intense. Although in no way is it described as an easy path, the accomplishment of being liberated from this addiction is repeatedly described with pure gratitude. Unfortunately, the symptoms of withdrawal from methadone are lightheadedness, tearing, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, tremors, rapid heartbeat, abdominal cramps, aches and pains (all over, but more so in the joints and legs), elevated pain sensitivity, elevated blood pressure, suicidal thoughts, depression, adrenal exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, delirium, auditory and/or visual hallucinations, heightened perception of odors (often imagined at times), decrease in sex drive, agitation, anxiety, panic, paranoia and delusions. It is quite a tragic situation that these symptoms, in certain cases, could last up to months. Rarely has there been a case where somebody was able to go through this type of withdrawal without some professional help. With long-term use of this drug, tolerance gains momentum. Each time the dose is increased, negative effects are burdened on the person such as the dulling of their emotions, an inability to get refreshing and sound sleep, blacking out, cloudy thinking, slowed reaction time, dehydration and an inability to properly nourish their body. As you can see, this medication is usually an ugly mess to get involved with.
The best bet for somebody that’s addicted is to go through a detoxification program at a clinic that provides natural solutions and healthy alternatives in order to prevent further addiction while simultaneously nourishing the deteriorated body. Additionally, a risk worth mentioning is that methadone doesn’t provide much of a high. In the case where somebody turns to methadone due to lack of supply of their usual drug of choice (like heroin or OxyContin), this can be very dangerous. They don’t know what they’re doing and likely ignorant, without having done the necessary research into methadone, they can take a dangerous amount because they sense they’re not getting a potent enough or euphoric enough high. This could lead to overdose and potentially death.
Methadone stays in the body’s tissues eight times longer than heroin or other narcotic painkillers, which is something that could be a recipe for disaster. This could lead someone to overdosing and falling into a coma because the pain killing effects wear off way before the drug leaves the system. So in an attempt to deal with the issue of pain, not knowing that it isn’t out of their system, the person will take more which, accumulated with the last dose, could be too much for the body to handle. It could be the dose that sends them over the edge. Due to the fact that methadone induces hyperalgesia, which is a condition where sensitivity to pain increases, you could see how this particular medication backfires. In conclusion, there are so many undesirable side effects and risks involved in methadone that even the result of trying to regulate chronic pain seems to only further wreak havoc on the user’s body leading to an inevitable unwanted situation.