Long Term Methadone Side Effects
Although methadone is generally safe when used as medically prescribed for the treatment of pain or opiate dependence, a number of long term side effects may arise from sustained use of this drug. Like other opioids, methadone does carry a significant risk of physical dependence and may cause lasting side effects that are both difficult to cope with and equally difficult to overcome.
According to a recent article published in Science Daily, long-term methadone treatment can cause changes in the brain that result in changes to cognitive functioning. These changes can greatly impact learning and memory among other things. Long term use of methadone, especially using methadone for many months or even years, is often responsible for cellular changes in the brain that do not repair or go away once the drug use stops. As such, any use of methadone should be done with caution and care as well as a thorough understanding of the potential risks involved.
Medical News Today reports that, “a positive treatment outcome depends on the patient functioning well – both socially and intellectually. If methadone treatment also impairs intellectual functions in humans, it could have a negative effect on the treatment result.” Methadone’s impact on the brain, and the ability for the user to function properly can have a negative impact on the socialite of the user causing him or her to feel uncomfortable or to behave abnormally in social experiences.
Little Evidence to Support Big Concerns
Despite the fact that Methadone has been used in the treatment field for more than 50 years, there continues to be little evidence to support the major concerns associated with long term side effects of using the drug. While research does support the thought that there are some potential concerns associated with cognitive change and with physical dependence, little knowledge exists to this day that depicts the true extent of long term methadone side effects.
Pre-clinical trials, and other studies must be performed in order to fully understand how methadone will affect an individual long term. While some patients doe experience long term side effects such as changes in cognitive function, memory problems, and patterns of physical dependence, not all users will experience such a strong degree of side effects. In fact, many report being able to take methadone as prescribed for a very long time and then, upon tapering the drug off, experience no real long term side effects.