Methadone Addiction: Causes and Treatment

Methadone is a prescription medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as opioids. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved methadone to treat moderate to severe pain and opioid use disorders (OUDs).

Methadone is both safe and effective when used as prescribed. It helps people to recover from addiction and return to active and fulfilling lives.

For best results, patients should also participate in a comprehensive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program that includes social support and counseling.

Methadone can be very effective in treating chronic pain and withdrawal symptoms. However, in recent years, the safety of methadone has come into question.

While methadone has been a solution to treat opioid addiction, it is also a highly addictive substance in and of itself. Therefore, people who use methadone need to understand the adverse effects it can have on their overall health.

Get Help for Methadone Addiction

Although methadone is most often used to treat heroin addiction, methadone itself has a high potential for addiction. Long-term use of methadone can result in drug dependence and tolerance.

Recovering from methadone addiction is possible. Treatment in a safe and comfortable environment can minimize discomfort, help avoid relapse, and offer ongoing recovery support.

For those who are prepared to overcome their methadone addiction, there are various effective treatment options available at The Recovery Team.

The Recovery Team offers residential treatment, outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient program (IOP), partial hospitalization (PHP), dual diagnosis, and other therapies.

Our health professionals can help make the recovery process as effective and painless as possible. With proper treatment, you can regain control of your life.

If you are addicted to methadone or any other prescription drug, get immediate help at The Recovery Team. Contact us today at (800) 817-1247.

Symptoms of Methadone Addiction

Because methadone is a prescription drug, people may be more likely to misuse it because they believe it is safe, especially when compared to opioid drugs, such as fentanyl or heroin.

Someone with a methadone prescription may not know their usage has developed into addiction until it is too late.

Some common side effects associated with methadone misuse that can act as possible symptoms of methadone addiction include the following:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Little reaction to light
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blurred vision

Methadone addiction symptoms vary depending on how often a person uses the medication, how high a dosage they take, their age, weight, genetics, and other individual factors.

When to Seek Treatment…

If you display the following behaviors or patterns, it may be time to seek professional treatment for your addiction:

  • Taking more than their prescribed dose of methadone
  • Taking the drug on a regular basis, even if it isn’t needed
  • Ignoring duties and responsibilities to use methadone
  • Continuing to use the drug despite adverse effects
  • Issues with family, work, or other relationships
  • Lying about drug use or taking the drug secretly

If you are experiencing any of the issues above, contact a doctor or substance abuse expert as soon as possible to avoid any serious health complications.

If a Loved One Needs Help…

If someone you care about is suffering from substance use disorder, you may feel scared, powerless, and confused. You may be desperate for them to get treatment.

While you cannot force someone to overcome their addiction, your love, support, and patience can help them recover.

Here is how you can help a loved one who needs help:

  • Educate yourself about methadone addiction
  • Be clear and upfront about their addiction problem
  • Set and enforce healthy boundaries
  • Do not enable them
  • Do not blame or shame them
  • Look into professional treatment and drug rehab services
  • Encourage them to seek help
  • Be involved in the drug rehab treatment and recovery process

Causes of Methadone Addiction

Some people believe that those addicted to prescription drugs, such as methadone, lack willpower and could quit if they wanted to.

However, methadone addiction is a complex brain disease that, according to most researchers, is caused by a combination of factors. The following are the most commonly recognized causes of methadone abuse:

Family History

Genetics plays a big part in every aspect of a person’s life, including physical appearance, emotional state, and overall health. Family history and genetics also play a role in prescription drug addiction, such as methadone.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), family studies reveal that a person’s genetic makeup determines up to half of their risk of being addicted to drugs.

Therefore, if you have a family member with methadone addiction, you are more likely to develop an addiction too. A family history of substance use does not mean that a person will definitely develop an addiction; instead, it only increases the likelihood.

Addictive Potential

Methadone has a high potential to be abused. While it does not have the same addictive potential as morphine or heroin, it does have a few sedative properties that can become addictive when taken frequently and in high doses.

People who abuse methadone for its intoxicating effects or medical reasons may develop an addiction after long-term usage. People with a history of opiate addiction are at a higher risk of methadone addiction.

Risk Factors of Methadone Addiction

No single factor can indicate whether or not a person would become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences the risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the more likely it is that prescription drug use will lead to addiction.

These risk factors for prescription drug addiction are not absolute determinants for everyone, but they should lead to lifestyle changes when observed. These factors may include the following:

Drug Availability

Addiction to prescription medications has been rising steadily in America. One major reason for that is the availability of drugs.

Easy access to prescription drugs, such as methadone, can lead to addiction in several ways, namely by increasing the chances of excessive use and abuse.

People who use methadone as a replacement for other illicit drugs are at high risk of developing an addiction problem.

Most of the time, people get methadone because a doctor prescribes them or someone in their house takes medicine.

Social Pressures

Addiction and social pressure are linked. Social pressure causes people to engage in risky behaviors, such as abusing drugs.

Social peer pressure can be obvious, such as offering a person to misuse drug or mocking someone who refuses to use it.

On the other hand, social pressure can also be more subtle and indirect. For example, suppose popular students misuse methadone or any other prescription medication. In that case, other students may believe they must do the same to be accepted by their peers.

As a result, if someone continues to socialize with people who encourage prescription drug usage, they may continue using it and develop an addiction.

Lack of Support

A person’s environment is a primary risk factor for prescription drug abuse.

Teenagers who lack support from family or live in an abusive environment are more prone to use drugs to cope with their feelings. Teens begin using prescription medications because they have easier access than illegal drugs.

People isolate themselves due to unpleasant family situations or a lack of bond with family members. This isolation may raise the chances of experimenting with drugs and developing an addiction.

Effects of Methadone Addiction

Methadone is a prescription medication that is very effective in treating opioid use disorder (OUD). Due to its high potential for addiction, it is recommended to take it only with a doctor’s prescription.

However, when someone abuses methadone, they run a high risk of developing an addiction. Methadone addiction can result in various effects on safety, employment, relationships, and health.

Here are the most common effects of methadone addiction:

Effects on Safety

Methadone abuse can lead to slowed reaction time, dizziness, and drowsiness, which can lead to poor decisions and risky behaviors or situations, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Problems with other drug use
  • Engaging in risky sex or experiencing sexual abuse
  • High chances of committing crimes or being the victim of a crime
  • High risk of attempted or completed suicide

Effects on Relationships

Methadone, like any other drug, can take a serious toll on relationships.

Following is the breakdown of reasons that stem from methadone abuse and can affect a person’s relationship with family members, friends, and co-workers.

  • Loss of trust
  • Violence and abuse
  • Neglecting personal duties
  • Taking time away from commitments to use the drug
  • Inability to stop using
  • Reckless behavior
  • Financial problems

Effects on Employment

Methadone addiction affects employment in several ways. Here are the most common effects of methadone abuse on employment:

  • Absenteeism
  • Sleeping on the job
  • Loss of efficiency
  • Poor decision making
  • High chances of having trouble with colleagues
  • Illegal activities at work, including selling drugs to other employees
  • Workplace injuries
  • Job loss

Effects on Health

Addiction is a complex brain disease that can impact a person’s overall physical and mental health. Here are the effects of methadone addiction on health:

  • Dry mouth
  • Arms and legs feel heavy
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Dental problems
  • Itching
  • Reduced or absent menstrual cycle
  • Dysphoria
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Abdominal cramps

Treatment of Methadone Addiction

There are many effective treatment options available for methadone addiction. These options may include the following:

Medical Detox

Methadone is often used to help people addicted to heroin or other opioids by easing withdrawal symptoms. People who misuse methadone may become dependent on this medicine, which can lead to addiction.

If you are addicted to methadone, you should never attempt to quit alone. A medically supervised detox program is a necessary first step toward breaking free from the drug’s grasp.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient methadone rehab includes structured and planned days, and patients must follow the program’s guidelines and rules. Inpatient treatment might last 30, 60, or 90 days.

The intensive nature of inpatient rehab can result in positive results. However, inpatient rehab requires individuals to leave their homes, jobs, and families while in treatment.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient rehab offers more flexible options than inpatient rehab, allowing patients to continue with their work, family, or other responsibilities as needed.

When a person is not severely addicted to methadone and may not need intensive care, outpatient rehab programs may be the best option.

There are several levels of care within outpatient rehab, which can fit with a person’s varying levels of structure and schedule.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A PHP is a step down from inpatient drug rehab and usually offers highly structured care for 4-6 hours per day, 3-5 days per week.

PHP programs are ideal for those who still require medical supervision during the day but can return home at night.

Families and caregivers must support the treatment plan and create a stable and supportive home environment.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

IOPs usually provide sessions three days a week for three hours at a time. An IOP may begin with more sessions more often and then gradually taper off as an individual proceeds through rehab.

These programs are designed for those who require the intensity and structure of inpatient rehab with the flexibility of outpatient rehab.

For an IOP to be most effective, the support system must be solid, and the home environment must be stable and drug-free.


Overcoming addiction to methadone also includes a wide variety of therapies. Some of these may include the following: