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Methadone Side Effects - What to Expect?

Methadone is one of the most intensely researched medications ever developed and it has been in very wide use for over 50 years.

Doctors have a very good understanding of what side effects people on methadone will and will not experience, yet despite this wealth of knowledge, a lot of people still don’t have their facts straight on this pretty controversial, but effective, medication.

Methadone Is Dangerous, but Also Very Safe

Methadone is a very potent opiate and its use has been linked to many overdose deaths. If you take methadone other than as prescribed or if you mix methadone with other recreational or even prescription drugs you are putting yourself in grave danger. However, if you use methadone strictly as directed, methadone will do you little harm.

Studies on people who have been using methadone for decades have shown that the medication does no damage to any of the body’s organs or major systems, even when used chronically.1

Methadone Side Effects

Side effects are more commonly experienced at the beginning of treatment and during periods of dose adjustment. Once you get stabilized on an effective dose, side effects will often diminish.

People using methadone may experience some or all of these more common side effects:

  • Sedation – Methadone, like all opiates, can make you feel a little bit sleepy. This sedation tends to lessen as you get more accustomed to using the medication over time. You may feel excessively sleepy when your daily dosage is too high.
  • Sweating – Many people experience increased sweating while on methadone, and for some people, this is a side effect that does not dissipate in time and must be managed by other means, such as by the use of light and breathable clothing.
  • Constipation – This is one of the most commonly experienced side effects of methadone. This is best managed by natural means, such as by increasing the fiber in your diet or by increasing your activity level.
  • Changes in Sex Drive – Some people find that methadone interferes with sex drive (some people find that it increases sex drive). If your medication is reducing your sex drive, it’s best to talk to your doctor about the problem.2
  • Itchiness and Flushing
  • Weight Gain – A few extra pounds are a common side effect of methadone. It may not be the drug, however, that is causing the weight gain, and it may just be a return to greater health and the restoration of a healthy appetite that leads to weight gain on methadone.

Other possible side effects include dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and respiratory depression.3

There are a substantial number of more rare or very rare side effects that are also possible. In general, people are able to tolerate methadone well and the side effects of this medication tend to be greatly less severe than the side effects of abusing recreational opiates – in fact,  the most common side effect experienced by people on methadone compared to people abusing recreational opiates is improved health and well being!

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