Blog | Drug Abuse

Understanding Methadone and Its Overdose Dangers

Methadone is a powerful pain reliever in the opiate family. Often used as part of a treatment program for opiate addiction, it reduces the withdrawal symptoms associated with detox.1 Narcotics like methadone can slow breathing, eventually resulting in death. Using more methadone than prescribed by your doctor can be dangerous and can lead to a methadone overdose.

Overdose occurs when the body gets too much of the drug, resulting in dangerous and sometimes fatal side effects. Combining methadone with alcohol or other drugs can increase the drug’s side effects. Using methadone in any way other than prescribed increases the risk of addiction and overdose.2
 

Methadone Overdose Warning Signs

Methadone addiction can occur when an individual using the drug for legitimate purposes develops a dependence on the substance and needs the drug to function “normally.” Methadone dosages depend on the individual; therefore, it is important to strictly follow the guidelines given by your doctor regarding the appropriate dose. Overdose can occur — even accidentally — so taking methadone in greater or more frequent doses can be very dangerous. The danger increases when methadone is taken with other drugs or combined with alcohol.

If a loved one uses methadone for pain or as a treatment for narcotic addiction and loses consciousness after taking the medication, call 911 immediately. This could indicate a methadone overdose.

Other signs of methadone overdose include the following:
 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Confusion
  • Blue lips
  • Fainting
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Coma3

If any of these symptoms are present after ingesting methadone, seek medical attention right away.
 

Methadone Addiction Treatment

Methadone addiction treatment is the best way to prevent a methadone overdose. Methadone overdose is more likely to occur in people who are addicted to the drug, even if they use it as part of a pain management program.

Admitting you have a problem with methadone is the first step to getting help. Once you enter a rehab facility, you will go through a period of medically-supervised detox to give your body time to rid itself of the toxins of the drug.

After detox, your rehab team of doctors, therapists and counselors will determine whether or not you have any underlying mental illness contributing to the addiction and design a rehab program that best meets your needs. Rehab programs typically last 30, 60 or 90 days, depending on your insurance coverage. Through a combination of psychotherapy, individual counseling, group counseling and ongoing support, you or your loved one can have a life free from methadone addiction.
 

Finding Help for Methadone Addiction

Methadone is a powerful drug used to treat pain and the side effects of narcotic withdrawal. If you or a loved one struggles with methadone addiction, we are here to help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions counselor. Let us answer your questions about addiction and help you find the right treatment program for your unique situation. Please call 760-548-4032 today.


Sources

1 Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” Medline Plus, April 20, 2016.

2 Methadone.” Medline Plus, March 15, 2018.

3 Methadone overdose.” Medline Plus, September 23, 2017.