Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to relieve moderate to serious pain or as an aid to heroin withdrawal. Also known as Diskets, Dolophine and Methadose, this controlled substance requires a prescription and comes in liquid, tablet and injectable forms. Methadone is used to treat heroin addiction because it does not create the "high" of heroin and reduces cravings for the illegal drug. Used improperly or abused, methadone, like any other narcotic drug, can cause serious side effects or even death.
Before You Take Methadone
Tell your doctor if you have a heart condition known as long QT syndrome, any breathing disorder, liver or kidney disease, head injury or mental illness, brain injury or seizure disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, curvature of the spine, liver or kidney disease, low blood pressure or thyroid, adrenal, gall bladder or prostate problems, advises drugs.com. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. Don't take methadone if you're taking other narcotic drugs.
Forms of Methadone
Know what your particular prescription of methadone looks like so you can avoid counterfeit forms of the drug. Medhelp.org pictures oral methadone as a dark orange liquid that contains either 5 mg per 5 milliliters of solution or 10 mg per 10 mL of solution. The pill form of methadone comes in 5 mg and 10 mg round tablets or 5 mg and 10 mg rectangular tablets, depending on manufacturer. Injectable methadone comes as a solution containing 10 mg of methadone per mL of solution.
Length, Type and Consequences of Treatment
Methadone should be used only under close medical supervision. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. If you are a recovering addict, you can be in treatment for years. Methadone treatment does not interfere with your life or your employment. Methadone can be habit-forming, and stopping treatment suddenly can result in serious withdrawal symptoms; it takes much longer to withdraw from methadone than from heroin. The most effective maintenance treatment, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "includes comprehensive social and rehabilitation services."
Effect on Liver and Kidneys
Methadone has been very thoroughly tested. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that numerous studies of methadone use show no harmful effects to the liver, kidneys and other organs, even after long-term treatment. According to an article published in "Drug and Alcohol Dependence," researchers studied patients with chronic kidney problems, including one kidney transplant patient, who were on methadone and found no adverse effects on the kidneys.