Are Long Term Methadone Use Side Effects Dangerous?

Methadone exists as the first medication to receive federal approval as an opiate addiction treatment. After 50+ years of research and real-world application, methadone continues to set the standard for opiate addiction treatment medications.

While effective at helping recovering addicts maintain continued abstinence, long term methadone use side effects can develop for some people and may pose a danger to a person’s overall well-being. As different people respond to methadone’s effects in different ways, its important to consider the positives and negatives of methadone treatment in terms of its effects on your overall quality of life.

Call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 for more information on methadone treatment programs.

Methadone Treatment Purpose

When used as an opiate addiction treatment, long term methadone use works to help recovering addicts maintain ongoing abstinence on a day-to-day basis, according to the Western Journal of Medicine. It takes a minimum of a year to start seeing optimal results from methadone; however, some people may choose to remain on the drug for multiple years at a time.

In terms of when long term methadone use side effects start to develop, it’s different for each person so those most susceptible are likely to experience the more dangerous effects along the way.

Dangerous Long Term Methadone Use Side Effects

Long Term Methadone Use

Long term methadone use can lead to withdrawal episodes.

Health Effects

Methadone works to restore a normal chemical balance in the body by altering the brain’s chemical activities. For people who experience long term methadone use side effects, the drug’s interactions have interfered with one or bodily systems in adverse ways.

Health-related effects brought on by long term methadone use include:

  • Sexual dysfunction and/or reduced sex drive
  • Hormonal imbalances that interfere with menstrual cycles and reduce testosterone production
  • Breathing problems

Physical Dependence

Much of methadone’s therapeutic benefit derives from its classification as a synthetic opiate drug. In effect, methadone produces many of the same effects as addictive opiates without posing the same high risk for abuse or addiction.

According to the World Health Organization, as an opiate drug, one of the long term methadone use side effects takes the form of physical dependence and the withdrawal effects that dependence brings. Withdrawal effects typically take the form of:

  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiousness
  • Depression symptoms
  • Irritability

Are there Long Term Effects of Methadone to Worry About?

Drug Interactions

Methadone can interact with other types of drugs in harmful ways. With long term methadone use side effects, the body has reached a point where its developed a tolerance for methadone’s effects, so combining it with similar type drugs or substances can produce dangerous effects.

Mixing methadone with alcohol, benzodiazepines or any type of central nervous system depressant can bring on life-threatening symptoms, such as respiratory depression, stroke or even death.

Abuse & Addiction Risks

As with any opiate-based drug, for some people, long term methadone use side effects can take a turn for the worse. Abuse and addiction risks become all the more pressing in cases where a healthy support system is lacking.

Part of the methadone treatment approach involves ongoing behavior-based treatments, such as psychotherapy and support group work. This aspect of treatment is essential to eliminating the habits and overall mindset that drives compulsive drug use. When neglected, the risk of methadone abuse and addiction runs high.

If you’re considering methadone clinic treatment and have more questions or need help finding a treatment program, call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 to speak with one of our addiction counselors.