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Deaths attributed to methadone overdose have increased dramatically in the past few years due to its increased use as a pain reliever. What is it about methadone that makes it more dangerous than other pain killers on the market? Why are accidental overdoses so common with methadone?

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Comments
May 11, 2008 at 11:45 am
(1) Lora says:

Methadone belongs to the opioid family of drugs. It is used most commonly to treat dependence on other opioid drugs such as heroin, codeine and morphine. Opium poppy is where lab Chemists get majority of the substance from. Pure methadone is a white crystalline powder. The powder is dissolved, usually in a fruit-flavoured drink, and is taken orally once a day.
It was to be used during the Second World War and was first used to provide pain relief. Since then it has led to an increase in the number of users and has caused many deaths.
Methadone is a dangerous drug by itself or in combination with sedatives and other drugs.

The cost/benefits should be assessed before undergoing treatment with methadone, as it is a dangerous drug with a very high potential for abuse and dependence.

I am strongly against this “substitute” drug and feel that you should not use another drug to get over your current drug problem.

Methadone maintenance is not a “cure”!!!

Lora

http://www.drug-rehab.ca/

August 4, 2008 at 4:02 pm
(2) Nate Riley says:

Wow Lora,
You and this whole page are so incorrect methadone is some what dangerous but heroin addicts looking for a fix are much more harmful to themselves and others with out methadone it fills the opioid receptors so the person can function and stay clear of people who use or sell ,things which trigger cravings and avoid places like drug spots or places of prior use. I must say most of the deaths from methadone are caused by the people abusing it and I understand the family and loved ones of the dead wanting to blame methadone but one thing you learn in any rehab or AA and Al ANON is take responsibility don’t blame others or blame the drug you took it bought it and found the dealer. Methadone clinics are one of the greatest things on this planet they serve the poor and rich with equal treatment they take overwhelming precautions (I am sure that there are bad ones but few)I am an Addict and out patient and in patient along with suboxone did not stop my use but taught me what to do when clean after my first dose of methadone I have been clean 2 years the other treatment took 2 years too and I learned what to do to stop and how to stay sober but I did not have sustained sobriety till methadone. All the treatments were worth it they all gave me tools for sobriety but methadone allowed me to be clean and some people say I traded one opioid for another It is but with methadone I can’t get AIDS or get arrested or be shot when getting robbed and methadone is socially acceptable and you are not ostracized (Fair no) and most of all you do not cause your family pain. Methadone may not be a cure but is the best damn weapon to fight long term heroin addiction. Lora’s post is and Advertisement so disregard it if you want to know the truth.

March 3, 2009 at 5:44 am
(3) Alex says:

First, Nate, congratulations: for reclaiming your life !!!! And Lora, my sincere sympathy if you have lost a dear one to that drug :(
However, the 2 distinct uses of Methadone 1-Pain relief and 2-Detox warrant distinct discussions. The dosage itself is manyfolds different for the two uses. Info on Methadone which weights both good and bad is widely available e.g.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methadone
True, some deaths have been attributed to Methadone used for pain relief, and was NOT because the patient misused the prescription.
Numerous other cases (including anecdotally my 90year old grand father) have been pain free without adverse effect. And for detox, my main concern is the atrocious pain of methadone withdrawal and the fact that it is too often forced on the user either by policy, or for financial reasons (esp in the US). I wonder: is clean legal heroin in a controlled environment more toxic than methadone ? I have no idea. But such questions ought to be addressed without the moral righteousness too often prevailing on such topics…

August 4, 2010 at 8:45 am
(4) Aaron says:

Methadone is dangerous because it is a vastly misunderstood drug. When used for pain management many people believe that if 1 is good 2 is better and end up in an overdose situation. This is where most methadone deaths come from. When used for maintenance Methadone is very useful, but has potential dangers. These include overdose and drug interactions. We have lost many people to death at my clinic, and most of these deaths are due to people combining Methadone with benzodiazepines or alcohol. This is a fatal combination that we watch for daily and take precautions to prevent. I have never seen methadone cause any dangerous reaction on its own in a maintenance setting.

February 4, 2011 at 10:26 pm
(5) Kimberly says:

I was on the methadone clinic for heroin addiction twice. The last time for two years. In my experience it does help you from using but I think it prolongs your eventual use. Also, from my experience a lot of people on methadones switch habits and this can be dangerous. I feel it enabled me to financially afford other drugs.

March 8, 2011 at 5:00 am
(6) Debbie says:

My ex-husband passed away 3 months ago he was on methadone. The final death certificate has not been issued yet, but I believe his death to be related to methodone use. I will post it when I receive it. I always felt strongly against methadone because of the dangers. There should be more done for people with drug and alcohol problems. Putting them on another medication is not the answer even if it seemingly helped some people.

May 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm
(7) nicole says:

Sorry for your loss wish u the best. I dont understand why people arent being educated on drug interactions when prescribed

May 30, 2011 at 9:32 am
(8) Mecca says:

I am a former Heroin addict and have seen what goes on in the back alleys with needle sharing, no filtering, dropping on ground then picking up and slamming a dirty rig, and hepatitas is rampant. Luckily I got on methadone maintnance before I killed myself quickly or slowly, but most definately some way. When administered by a doctor and a properly run clinic there is basically 0% chance of death. This is assuming the person seeking methadone doesnt lie about their last use, or the ammount they use, or how many times a day they use. These are some of the reasons people die. The others are young unknowledgable people buying illegally and taking insane doses not knowing its potency. If 30mg can be felt over your last heroin shot than some kid buying a 2 year methadone clients 150mg bottle and drinking the whole thing because its just orange juice with opiates it another reason. Kids, a full grown 200LB adult can die from taking 50mg’s if they arent on narcotics or on very low doses or havnt used latley. All in all if the program is used the way its meant to be than methadone is safe. when you get into illegal or unhealthy thats where the demon lies! Thank god 4 methadone clinics, clean 6 years now! :)

July 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm
(9) kiesha says:

As always everyone has there own opinion. My out look on methadone is it saves lives. It works when you work it. I am a recovery addict and with the help of my higher power & methadone has helped me tremendously. I have been clean from illict drugs for almost 2 years. I am very grateful for methadone. I dont intend on living the remaining of my life on methadone. Alot of people may listen to others about this drug but, do they really know what it is about. I would any day rather be on methadone instead of herion out on the streets using. I think before some people speak they should know exactly know what they are talking about!!

September 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm
(10) donna says:

there is help for those of you that have questions if you’ve lost a loved one to prescription pain killers~

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRyGkIokO10

October 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm
(11) DK says:

I agree with two things I read here; methadone is dangerous and methadone saves lives. I have seen both in my own family. My one son was taking it legally, for heroin addiction. He was taking it properly, and following ever single rule of the treatment facility. This resulted in them giving him take-home doses, which he kept in a small locked box that the facility sold him. The problem was that the lock was too easy to pick. My other son got into his brother’s lock box and took about half of the liquid from several of the bottles which contained a full day’s dose. No one realized that he had done this, when he decided to take a nap. He stopped breathing and died in his sleep. He was only 26 years old.

Methadone, when used appropriately, has its place. When prescribed by someone who is well educated about its use, and taken as prescribed, it can be used to help treat addiction to other drugs, and also chronic pain conditions. When used inappropriately, taken in too large a dose or combined with alcohol or other drugs, it can result it other mothers, like me, having to go to a cemetery to visit their children.

October 14, 2011 at 9:19 am
(12) lori says:

How long do u have to take methadone before u can stop? My son and daughter-in-law were taking loratabs and zanax and have been on methadone for a week. I am afraid they are just trading one drug for another. Comments please.

October 24, 2011 at 2:08 am
(13) Chris says:

Part 1 reply to Lori
Hi Lori ( and others )
addressing your first question as to how long your son and his wife will be on Methadone is all dependant on how much of the pain killer loratab they were taking. Methadone Dr.s start on low doses and monitor the patient to find a dosage that ‘settles’ them. Once achieved you have reached what is called the ‘maintenance dose’ . Most Dr.s say that on average 18 months to 2 years is a general time factor for the entire methadone program, IF, and only IF. the patient stays away from the source drugs, and also, WANTS to free of all substances and start a new lifestyle. This isnt etched in stone and there are some other parameters for long time heroin users or chronic pain management.

October 24, 2011 at 2:09 am
(14) chris says:

Part 2 reply to Lori

I have been on Methadone now for just over 2 yrs. I was being prescrfibed Oxycontin by a family Dr. for over 4 years and was abusing the drug terribly. My Dr. was later arrested after I left his care for selling the Oxys right out of his office. Nontheless, I was tired of being and addict with addict behaviour on Oxycontin. I found myself in many bad situations , either buying or selling pills. Once I was introduced to Methadone and made a sincere commitment to being a FUNCTIONING member of society again, I can say Methadone allows me to function daily, never with any type of ‘buzz’ or ‘high’ as once your body becomes accustomed to it, it has very little affect on the patient. I will begin to slowly taper down my dosage if I can, because I WANT to, but I do have OsteoArthritis and without any help the pain is often too much for me to be able to particpate in daily activities.
When tapering the dosage down after success with ridding yourself of using the illicit drugs, you must be careful. The taper process can actually take a year or more as well. If you dosage is at 100ml, your doctor would ( or should ) recommend only a drop down of 1ml per week. There are some patients who drop 5ml bi-weekly, but everyone varies.

October 24, 2011 at 2:10 am
(15) chris says:

Part 3 reply to Lori

In conclusion Lori , support your kids in the program, make sure they follow the rules of the program, and involve yourself in the process of recovery. Support is a wonderful thing and praise is a great healer. Be grateful that there is a program to get them off the streets and into a medical enviroment , to which they have entered on the Path to Recovery.

Methadone DOES Work !

December 20, 2011 at 10:17 pm
(16) Amy says:

My parents called me yesterday to tell me they received the toxicology reports on my brother’s death. My 29 year old brother passed away on November 21, 2011 after taking taking Xanax and Methadone. On the day that he died he was able to purchase Methadone off the street. He would have been 30 years old on Thanksgiving.

March 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm
(17) Mark says:

A bit late on this, but I am very sorry for your loss Amy, heartbreaking. I have abused pills for a number of years, although I would not say I’m out of control as I have always kept my doses at reasonable levels, say, 45-50 mg of hydrocodone per day and perhaps, 2-3 mg of xanax or klonopin. I have never gone above that level because I am terrified of dying. I can function well physically and mentally but there is no doubt about it, the pills have taken a serious toll on my mental and physical health. Even if you are a low-end addict, for lack of a better term, it will catch up with you eventually. However, methadone is something I really try to stay away from and I have only used it when I am having serious withdrawal issues from hyrdo or oxycodone and then, never exceeding 15 mg per day. If I do use methadone, I don’t go anwwhere near my xanax or klonopin because it’s quite apparent that this is a very bad combination. Methadone can definitely sneak up on you since the half life is unbelievably long. I believe mixing is probably the way that most people end up dead. However, a close second would have to be someone who simply does not understand that if you are not tolerant to opioids, 20+ mg can easily kill you. It’s not at all like taking 20 mg of hydrocodone or oxycodone or even morphine. If used under the direct care of a knowledgeable doctor, this drug can be prescribed safely but if used under any other circumstances, it can most certainly be deadly. Thta being said, this drug should only be used as a last resort and NEVER, under any circumstances, recreationally.

September 8, 2012 at 9:26 am
(18) Heather says:

My love is withdrawing from 80mgs of Methadone cold turkey. he may die. I need to talk to someone about this!

November 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm
(19) Paris says:

My boyfriend has been addicted to heroin for almost 3yrs. So they recently prescribed Methadone 4 him. I would like to know if its Okay if he takes more than the prescibed dose?

December 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm
(20) Rondi says:

RT: Paris: it’s not usually a good idea with methadone to take mote than prescribed because it is so strong and the halflife is so long but I think also if he’s taking the prescribed amount and is still in WD, ONLY if he’s still in withdrawal, then it’s probably ok to take a little more but it’s a very fine line with methadone because it’s not the dose you just took that you OD on it’s the dose you just took and the one 12hrs prior that you’re not used to having to think about because no other opioid lasts so long. Best of luck to him, I have used methadone to stop withdrawal before and it’s hard to guage how much is ok. I took 20mg and was still sick so I took another 10mg tab and when that hit me 30mg was getting me high-ish I have never had that happen with other meds. You’re either sick or not and after you’re not sick you keep taking and you get high not just you’re either sick or you’re high lol. I prefer Suboxone, MUCH safer being that it has a ceiling and it’s not as long a half life and it keeps you from getting high while you’re on it is expensive and highly regulated tho and has some long term effects on the liver but it is much safer if you can get it

December 9, 2012 at 6:28 am
(21) Rob says:

Don’t listen to Lora and her advertising bull-crap. Methadone still has saved more lives statistically then any rehabs have over the past 10 years so get your facts straight before scaring people away from a method that could save their life.

This society is so messed up. people trying to make money off sick people. They will have to atone eventually for their greedy life against people in addiction pain. idiots.

January 19, 2013 at 10:39 am
(22) Ashley says:

I’m reading some of these comments and i can understand why some people would be confused about methadone if they have never used it PERSONALLY. I was what some would call a lost cause before i walked into the methadone clinic May 10,2011. I had even given up on myself and i was only trying this treatment to humor every one. Nothing else had ever helped (not even a little). to my amazment and every one else’s, i have been clean since that day. Yes i take the methadone but i still consider myself clean because i am taking a medicine that is legally prescribed to me and i am strictly monitored with random drug screens, breathalyzers, and i don’t take any BENZOs but they are REALLY strict with those at my clinic. They check the levels in your blood (acceptable level has been lowered to 1500. thats about 1.5mg of xanax a day.) if you are over the acceptable level they will decrease your methadone dose. They also make you sit 30mins after you dose to monitor you and you have to bring your BENZOs in every day so they can count them. I know that sounds ridiculous but i think its a good thing because i know people who have died from mixing methadone with benzos. There are a whole bunch of other things they do to monitor us there. If we don’t follow the rules, there are consequences.
I’m not sure if i agree with doctors prescribing methadone so freely for pain because i’m sure a large percent of them don’t take all the precautions that methadone clinics do to keep their patients safe. the doctors at methadone clinics SPECIALIZE in this medication and are FULLY educated about all the interactions and side effects of it. I don’t think that regular MDs are.
Any way what i am trying to say is that there are side effects with EVERY drug you take. I think that methadone is a WONDERFUL, lifesaving medication when used properly and under very strict medical supervision. It saved MY life.

February 3, 2013 at 9:01 am
(23) moto1 says:

Methadone saves far more lives than it takes. Unless you have been in the situation I don’t believe you can comment, I feel sorry for the loss of people but its part of life. We will all see the people we have lost again, so please just think of the ‘good’ rather than the bad. There is, I beleive a HUGE problem with big Pharma getting people on drugs from an early age. Children can’t be children anymore without being prescribed some form of tablet. In order to overcome this problem we really should be looking at the big picture. Oh and by the way METHADONE SAVED MY LIVE……………….

July 22, 2013 at 12:48 am
(24) j says:

by clean do you mean all drug use (including methadone)? or just illegal drugs?

November 26, 2013 at 9:40 am
(25) mike says:

Its true methadone works.. I take it, was on a dose of 145 mg until a 2 weeks ago when my health insurance ran out and my clinic started me on a financial detox lasting a week. I had the option to pay out right but unfortunately do not have $400 a month to spare. its been 5 days since my last dose of 14mgs (down from 145) and i feel terrible but still nowhere as bad as I had from heroin withdrawal.

That being said couple points..
1.methadone is the single most effective treatment for heroin withdrawal.. Problems arise from people seeking treatment for minor pill habits in which case methadone is simply a substitue.

2. Find me a single long term methadone user who likes it!!! something about the stuff is repellant and people always want to get off it. Its not the narcotic heroin that they fell in love with. Been in many a group meetings where methadone patients want to quit although its def not easy.

3.The long term intervenous heroin user is destitute. They have generally conceeded that the stuff is required by their bodies to maintain normalcy and withstand everyday life and will use it to the grave. Further they may not be scared of overdose. To a heroin user there is nothing more serene then the ultimate high before fading peacefully to death. In fact death may be a relief! or so was my mindset before methadone gave me control

4.Ive only slept 4 hours total in 5 days.. granted that sucks man and i feel like trash but nowhere as bad as the cyclical nausea and wrenching pain of heroin use. It works bro, take it from me. I woulda been dead in a public toilet with a needle still in my arm for sure.

February 18, 2014 at 11:15 am
(26) jake says:

its much easier to go through heroin withdrawal than it is to get off methadone. ofcourse methadone stops WD’s, its an opiate. a much longer acting opiate that puts you through WD’s for a much longer period of time. in my state when i was trying to kick dilaudid i could find clinics that would accept me without insurance pretty easily, after 5 years on methadone i couldnt find anyone in my state that would take me, so i essentially had to detox on my own. much much different than coming off of dilaudid , much more intense and the duration of WD’s was damn near five times that of dilaudid. im 9 months clean and still not “normal” if such a thing exists anymore. for anyone kicking it , you can do it. dont listen when they tell you its impossible, its not. its just alot harder to kick than a dope habit but its amazing waking up in the morning not having to take 80mgs to feel like getting up and doing something

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