As the Opioid Epidemic continues to claim devastating numbers of lives each and every day, more and more people turn to pharmaceutical help for their addictions.
Methadone is one of the oldest and most well-known addiction treatment medications currently available. While methadone maintenance (when followed as prescribed) is certainly safer than illicit heroin/opioid use, it also carries several long-term health effects that should be known before selecting it as an option.
Here we discuss the long-term health consequences of methadone maintenance.
Methadone has been shown in several studies to cause heart issues in patients, even when taken as prescribed. (1) Evidence has even suggested that methadone may be responsible for sudden cardiac death – even in patients who have not overdosed on it. (2)
Nerve Cells in the Brain
A long-term study published in 2012 found that methadone treatment might cause changes to nerve cells in the brain. The study found that methadone caused an approximately 70% decrease in a brain signaling molecule that is crucial for learning and memory. (3)
Reduction in Bone Density
A 2010 study sought to determine whether opioids caused damage to bones or not by surveying a group of people in a methadone maintenance program. The study found that men on regular methadone maintenance demonstrated decreased bone mass density in comparison to those who were not on methadone. (4)
It is important to note that methadone is also an opioid that binds to the same receptors as heroin and other opioids commonly abused. Therefore, it has the same potential to be physically and mentally addictive as other opioids. (5)
Extremely prolonged withdrawal
Methadone causes the same painful withdrawal experience that is associated with other opioids. Due to the long half-life of methadone, however, it is greatly prolonged compared to most other opioids.
Methadone withdrawal typically starts 24-36 hours after the last dose, and typically lasts for 2-3 weeks. This, unfortunately, makes methadone one of the most difficult substances to detox from. (6)
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.