How does methadone react with other drugs or medications?
Methadone does not block the intoxicating effects of non-opiate drugs (sedatives, benzodiazepines, stimulants, alcohol, etc.).  Most overdoses occur when patients in treatment supplement their prescribed methadone with other central nervous system depressants.  Particularly dangerous when used in combination with methadone are:  Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, illicit methadone and large amounts of alcohol. Patients who are taking other medications should inform the CAP physician at time of intake.

What is the proper dose of methadone?
Doses are determined individually due to differences in opiate tolerance and metabolism. Each patient works with their counselor, nursing, and the CAP physician to determine their proper dose.

What is the expected length of time in treatment?
The length of time a patient remains in treatment depends greatly upon the patient. Methadone is meant to keep withdrawal and cravings at bay so the patient can focus on making life changes that are necessary in order to remain illicit drug free. The more time spent in treatment the more likely a patient is to remain illicit drug free and avoid relapse.

Are there any serious adverse effects with methadone?
When taken properly as prescribed long-term methadone treatment causes no adverse effects to any of the body’s organ systems.  Some side effects such as constipation, water retention, drowsiness, skin rash, excessive sweating, and alteration in sexual drive may occur in the early stages of treatment.  These problems typically decrease or stop altogether as the body adjusts to the methadone dose or if necessary, simple medical interventions may be offered.

Is methadone a substitution of one drug for another?
Opiate addiction is similar to other chronic illnesses like diabetes or high blood pressure which must be managed with medical intervention. Methadone is a long acting synthetic opiate, which makes it useful as a treatment medication for addiction to the fast acting opiates.  Methadone’s long acting nature keeps it relatively stable in the blood stream throughout the day. Opiate craving and withdrawal symptoms are suppressed when methadone occupies the same opiate brain receptors that short acting opiates such as heroin occupy.

Methadone maintenance not only treats craving and withdrawal, but addresses the life style of addiction. Methadone used as prescribed is safer and cheaper than having a heroin addiction and methadone is legal. Therefore a patient on methadone is freed up from having an expensive drug habit, usually maintained by illegal and dangerous activities. This relieves pressure from the patient and allows them to focus on personal health, family, and employment. Methadone treatment is not simply “substituting one drug for another.”

Does methadone impair mental function?
Methadone does not usually have adverse effects on mental functioning.  Patients on a stable dose of methadone are mentally sharp and comparable to non-patients in tests of reaction time, the ability to learn, mental focus, and in making complex judgments.  However patients who receive increases in methadone or begin new medications (even over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines) should use caution and not drive or operate machinery until they have determined that they are not experiencing drowsiness or other effects in mental functioning from an increased dose of methadone or a drug interaction. Methadone patients work in a wide range of occupations, and do well in handling other life responsibilities such as taking care of their family.

How are Medication Assisted Treatment programs, such as CAP, monitored?

Medication Assisted Treatment is the most regulated form of treatment for substance addiction in the U.S.  Both Federal and State regulatory agencies watch over the implementation of Medication Assisted Treatment programs. The Federal oversight agency, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), requires programs to be accredited like other health care providers.  Medication Assisted Treatment programs are also inspected and licensed by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and by the state in which they operate.

 

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