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Physical Effects of Methadone Use

Physical Effects of Methadone Use

Methadone is a synthetic opiate pain reliever that acts on the opiate receptors in the brain just as heroin, morphine and other opiates do. When taken, it produces a euphoric high. Unlike these other drugs, however, methadone effects last for quite a while (up to 59 hours). Methadone releases into the bloodstream more slowly than heroin or morphine. Because it lasts so long, methadone is most commonly used in the treatment of heroin addiction. There are some potentially dangerous methadone side effects, however, including breathing difficulties and changes to the heartbeat that the FDA warns against.

Like with other opiates, the body can become tolerant to methadone. Over time, a higher dose may be needed to produce the same pain relief or to curb withdrawal symptoms. This effect can contribute to physical dependency on methadone. A physical dependency can, but will not always, progress to a methadone addiction. A methadone addiction is similar to a heroin addiction and some even say that it is worse. Methadone cravings can be powerful, and methadone withdrawal symptoms can be relentless. Many of those who use methadone remain on the drug indefinitely to prevent having to go through detoxing off methadone.

Methadone detox side effects can be prevented using Suboxone (buprenorphine). Suboxone, which is also used for detoxification from oxycodone, heroin and other opiates, is much milder than methadone and less addictive. It prevents both cravings and withdrawal symptoms by kicking other opiods off the opiod receptors. By replacing methadone with a less destructive and addictive drug, users can gradually become drug-free.


Click here for the next part in the series, “From Heroin Addiction to Methadone Addiction.” Click here to return to the first part in the series, “Introduction to Methadone.”

Pat Moore Foundation’s drug & alcohol detox and alcohol & drug addiction treatment programs are licensed and certified by The State of California. We provide non-medical and medically managed detoxification (using Suboxone, Subutex, and Buprenorphine when appropriate) and primary residential treatment. Our individual homes are on a unique co-ed campus where we offer gender specific treatment. We are located in Costa Mesa, in Orange County, Southern California, close to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, and only an hour’s drive from Los Angeles and San Diego. To speak with a counselor, please call us 24-hours at (888) 426-6086 or if you’d like us to contact you, send a confidential message online by filling out our online form.

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