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What are the Symptoms of Methadone Addiction?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The symptoms of methadone addiction are similar to the symptoms associated with dependence on other opiates like heroin. People who demonstrate the signs of methadone addiction should be given professional help so that they can be weaned off the drug and deal with the psychological and social issues associated with drug dependency. As with other drug dependencies, a dependency on methadone can be very challenging to treat, and friends or family members of people who have developed an addiction to methadone should not hold themselves personally responsible for it.

Methadone is a synthetic opiate which was originally developed for pain management. Today, the drug is used to help people manage opiate addiction, with patients being weaned into methadone to reduce drug dependence, and then having their methadone dosage slowly cut while being given therapy so that they kick their drug dependencies. In the process, however, it is possible to develop a methadone addiction, and people can also develop addictions by acquiring the drug illegally and consuming it for recreation, or in an attempt to manage pain or other drug addictions.

As with other people who consume opioids in high amounts, methadone addicts often experience symptoms such as constipation, drowsiness, nausea, weight loss, irregular menstruation, contracted pupils, and a suppressed cough reflex. These symptoms do not necessarily indicate addiction, but they can be a warning sign, especially if they are prolonged or they grow worse.

Signs that a patient is experiencing addiction can include a need to use increasingly higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effect, the use of very high doses of methadone in general, refusal to adhere to a dosage schedule, combining methadone with other drugs, hiding methadone usage, or expressing a desire to stop using methadone, but being unable to do so. Someone suffering from methadone addiction may be in a state of denial or he or she may hide the addiction, fearing the social consequences or the intervention of concerned friends and family members. Evasive behavior, vehement denials of drug dependence, and signs of stress during periods of methadone deprivation are also signs of methadone addiction.

Treatment for methadone addiction is most successful when the patient is ready to work on his or her addiction. Inpatient programs are often recommended so that patients can be under supervision, and be taken outside an environment which may facilitate continued abuse of methadone. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals can help people recover from methadone addiction by supervising a patient's gradual weaning off the drug and creating a supportive environment for patients who want to stop using.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon215448 — On Sep 18, 2011

These drugs should not be prescribed out of the hospital. When you leave a hospital, get Advil like the rest of us. I had a gallbladder taken out and did not go home with any drugs. I think many who want these powerful drugs to go home with already have some kind of an addiction. I know and see people who freak out just to get admitted to the psych ward to get drugs! Doctors should not have the right to prescribe these. They do not watch the person close enough and for some doctors, I am sorry, but it is job security.

My son is one of those who was hurt at work and the doctor put him on Oxycontin. Thanks to that doctor, my son is now an addict and has lost his family because of this. He kept giving my son oxycontin for two years! No one should be kept on this drug! The doctors know how addictive it is.

Now my husband and I are going through hell. I do not eat or sleep. If I do, I wake up crying. He was always a great kid. Every one loved him. He is now losing that. He tells us he is not doing any drugs and has not since he went to detox, but it is hard to believe when you see the same patterns.

Please if any one reading this can help me or give me some advice. I will check back here to see if anyone can help. --Tina

By mutsy — On Mar 05, 2011

Cafe41 - I know that many people develop a methadone addiction as a result of improper use of drug therapy for pain.

Some people that have substantial pain from surgery for example due to chronic pain may take more than what is prescribed in order to get even faster pain relief.

However, this is how people become addicted. It was noted that the late Anna Nicole Smith had a methadone addiction and Rush Limbaugh, the radio talk show host also developed a painkiller addiction with oxycontin.

He became addicted after having back surgery and took more than what was prescribed. He eventually lost his hearing as a result of this addiction and had to go to an addiction detox facility to deal with painkiller addiction.

By cafe41 — On Mar 04, 2011

I think that painkillers in general are very dangerous and I would avoid them if at all possible.

They say that Michael Jackson developed a painkiller addiction when he was hospitalized for burns to his scalp from the Pepsi commercial.

After that point, he needed more and more painkillers because the pain was so severe that eventually he became addicted.

He also moved on to more powerful drugs and took a lethal dose of propofol that killed him.

This was a drug that was only supposed to be administered in a hospital under extreme supervision and for the purposes of performing surgery.

I hear that a lot of people that become addicted to painkillers eventually move on to other drugs and eventually need opiate addiction treatment in order to detox their system.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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