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Methadone Abuse Symptoms

Methadone abuse symptoms range from physical issues like constipation and nausea to behavioral signs like using more than prescribed. Dangers include respiratory system depression, seizures, mental health problems, and risk of overdose.

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Methadone abuse symptoms include strong cravings for the drug, an inability to stop or moderate use, physical problems like constipation or nausea, and negative consequences in other areas of life due to methadone abuse.

As a potent opioid, methadone abuse is dangerous. It can result in damage to virtually every area of life, overdose, addiction, and even death.

What Are the Most Common Signs & Symptoms of Methadone Abuse?

The most common sign of methadone abuse is consuming the medication in a way other than how it was prescribed. This generally means any of the following:

  1. Using more methadone than prescribed
  2. Using the drug more frequently than prescribed, such as taking doses closer together
  3. Using any methadone that was not prescribed to you

Signs and symptoms of methadone abuse include the following:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Heavy sedation
  • Vomiting
  • Constricted pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Agitation or mood changes
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation or other digestive issues
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Vision issues

What Are the Dangers of Methadone Abuse?

Side effects of methadone use include the following:

  • Itchiness
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort 
  • Reduced appetite
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Breathing changes
  • Constipation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain

If methadone is abused, the risks become more severe. Repeated abuse of methadone can result in the following physical issues:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Balance and coordination difficulties
  • Depression of the respiratory system
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Mental and emotional risks associated with methadone abuse can include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety

How to Recognize Methadone Addiction

If you suspect that someone you know if abusing methadone, look for these signs of methadone addiction:

  • Frequently discussing methadone and how to locate it
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as flu-like symptoms, in the absence of methadone
  • Consuming other substances when methadone is not available, such as other opioids like Vicodin or Percocet
  • Purchasing methadone illegally or stealing methadone from someone with a legitimate prescription
  • Talking about quitting use but being unable to do so
  • Financial difficulties related to drug use
  • Impaired social relationships or a loss of interest in responsibilities due to preoccupation with methadone

People who are regularly abusing methadone or other opioids may be able to hide their symptoms for a while, but as their addiction deepens, they will eventually be unable to disguise the associated issues.

Since overdose is always a risk with methadone abuse, it’s imperative to start a conversation. It could save their life.

Updated November 21, 2023
Resources
  1. Combined Ethanol, Cocaine, Heroin, and Methadone Abuse: A Deadly Mix, Review of the Literature. (2020). Asia Pacific Journal of Medical Toxicology.
  2. Effect of TRV130 and Methadone on Fentanyl-vs.-Food Choice and Somatic Withdrawal Signs in Opioid-Dependent and Post-Opioid-Dependent Rats. (July 2022). Neuropsychopharmacology.
  3. Methadone. (2023). United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
  4. Methadone Matters: What the United States Can Learn From the Global Effort to Treat Opioid Addiction. (February 2019). Journal of General Internal Medicine.
  5. Methadone. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  6. Methadone. (April 2023). StatPearls.
  7. The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. (July 2002). Addiction Science & Clinical Practice.
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