5 Interesting Methadone Facts
Opioid pain relievers (OPR) can be natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic and they all work in similar ways to bind and influence opioid receptors affecting the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain. Methadone is a synthetic opioid that has long been used in the treatment of heroin addictions to alleviate withdrawals and cravings and now it is widely prescribed for treatment of pain.
Effects of Methadone
Methadone is a CNS depressant and it decreases breathing, heart rate, and activities in the brain and every all other parts of the body because they are controlled by the CNS. Methadone causes tolerance, dependency, and addiction with withdrawals.
As a treatment for opioid addictions, methadone blocks certain opioid receptors from being affected by other opioid use. It attaches to the receptors for extended periods and produces the same effects as other opioids, including the relief of chronic pain. As a treatment for pain, it is considered a higher risk opioid of long-acting or extended-release (LA/ER) formulations.
Methadone can be deceiving with its long lasting and unpredictable half life. When you think the drug has worn off, in fact, it continues to metabolize for 24 to 48 hours, depending on various factors including the person’s age, weight, or other biological differences. Associated risks are accumulation of toxins, respiratory depression, irregular heart beat and multiple interactions with other drugs including. Unfortunately it is often used with other CNS depressants such as anti-anxiety drugs which increase the risks of overdose and death.
Interesting Methadone Facts
- Methadone is, inappropriately, being prescribed for mild and moderate pain and the risks are astronomical, considering the amount of diversions involved with these types of drugs. As a treatment for pain, it is considered a higher risk opioid of long-acting or extended-release (LA/ER) formulations and should only be prescribed for chronic pain that is uncontrollable by other means.
- Methadone abuse by people who are not enrolled in a methadone maintenance program for opioid addiction and who have not been prescribed methadone for treatment of pain accounts for nearly three quarters of overdoses involving methadone, according to the CDC.
- Methadone prescriptions for pain are higher for those people receiving Medicaid and methadone is often listed as a preferred drug by insurance companies. It is available in low cost generic forms also although it is the primary determinant of methadone mortality rates when prescribed for pain, according to the CDC.
- Methadone used in treatment of opioid addictions was considered a safer alternative, but, since the influx of pain prescriptions it now contributes to 1 out of every 3 painkiller deaths.
- Methadone overdoses are rising disproportionately to the amount of methadone prescriptions. “More than 30% of prescription painkiller deaths involve methadone, even though only 2% of painkiller prescriptions are for this drug.” according to the CDC.