Understanding Methadone Use, Abuse, Addiction & Recovery

methadone nurse assisted medication

A Methadone Regimen Can Help Manage Cravings

Facts About Methadone

  • Methadone is an opioid drug that is used for opiate addiction as well as pain
  • Methadone comes in the form of a small pill
  • Methadone can be taken orally or dissolved in liquid that can be drunk, diluted, or injected
  • Most people who are dependent on methadone were originally prescribed it to help them wean off of a heroin addiction
  • Methadone is as strong a pain reliever as morphine

The effects of Methadone last 24-36 hours,1 and when used in the relief of pain, the patient is monitored closely to get the right dosage. If the dose is too high, the effects are dangerous. Chronic methadone users who have built a tolerance to the drug are at risk of overdose.

Methadone is Also Called

  • Dollies or dolls
  • ‘Doan
  • Junk
  • Fizzies

The drug may be known by other street names depending on the region.

Symptoms/Signs of Methadone Use or Abuse

Because Methadone is time-released, the drug doesn’t give users the same intense euphoria as other opioid drugs. However, a person who abuses methadone will probably feel an initial high when they begin using it.

Many of the physical symptoms of methadone abuse are similar to other opioids such as heroin or Oxycontin. The user may feel quite drowsy while high and “nod off” from time to time. They may have trouble with walking, act disoriented, or slur their speech when they talk. Some people who abuse Methadone have trouble sleeping and other side effects common to opioid abuse such as constipation, headache, dry mouth, and itchiness.

Dangers of Long-Term Methadone Use

Like other opioid drug, chronic methadone users may suffer from unpleasant side effects with long-term use. They may gain weight and/or retain water or sweat a lot. Their mental health may suffer and they may have mood swings or angry outbursts. Methadone users are prone to side effects such as skin rashes and difficulty urinating.

Like many drugs, long-term methadone users may take doses too close together and accidentally overdose on the drug. They may have slow breathing or an irregular heartbeat, both of which are dangerous us signs of overdose. Methadone can also cause kidney damage and liver problems for chronic users.

Signs and Symptoms of Methadone Dependency/Addiction

A person who is addicted to methadone will develop a tolerance, meaning they will need more of the drug to feel its pleasurable effects. This will result in drug-seeking behavior such as hoarding drugs, rationing pills, or doctor shopping to try to get additional prescriptions. Some methadone users will have troubled relationships because of their drug use. They may lose their jobs or have unexplained financial problems. As they become addicted to the drug, they will spend more and more of their time seeking ways to use it. They may even commit crimes to support their habit.

Chronic Methadone users will experience varying side effects.2 Some people addicted to methadone will lose weight, while others will retain water. Users with liver damage may become jaundiced and have yellowing eyes or skin. If they try to quit using the drug, they may have painful or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Some of these withdrawal symptoms will include shaking, sweating, muscle aches, restlessness and insomnia. They may vomit or have severe muscle cramps. Other dangerous complications can arise when withdrawing from methadone. Because of this, addiction experts recommend that users taper off of  (or detox) under medical supervision so they can be monitored for adverse events and made as comfortable as possible in a safe setting.

How to Get Help for a Methadone Addiction

Addiction may seem like a never-ending spiral of highs and lows, but there is a way out and hope to find a new way of life. Many people addicted to Methadone have learned to reclaim their lives through the help of a professional treatment program. Are you interested in finding out more about your options? Give us a call. It’s 100% confidential and we will be happy to answer any questions.


1.Methadone – Medications for Opioid Use Disorder, available here.
2.Methadone, available here.