Methadone is blamed for nearly half of Scotland’s drug deaths.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, a world-leading addictions specialist.
Scotland is among the top countries in Europe with the highest drug-related deaths. In 2019, authorities recorded 1,264 drug-related deaths in Scotland. The majority of the deaths resulted from the use of opiates, particularly Methadone.
Generally, the problem of drug abuse is worse in Scotland compared to other European countries. Consequently, the majority of drug-related deaths happened in urban areas. In addition, the ageing population (35-54) accounted for the highest percentage of all drug-related deaths, at 68%.
Misuse of Methadone, which is classified as a prescription drug, is implicated in most deaths. Some people mix Methadone with other benzodiazepines to enhance the high effects without knowing it may cause life-threatening consequences.
At our facility, we help anyone struggling with any drug abuse or addiction. In addition, we offer help to anyone who is hooked on Methadone misuse. Please call us on 0203 955 7700, and our experienced specialists will help you deal with methadone addiction struggles.
What is Methadone?
Methadone is a controlled schedule 2 drug. It is a prescription drug used as replacement therapy for opioids as well as a painkiller.
When you take Methadone as prescribed, it is safe and effective in pain management. As a prescription medicine, you are instructed not to take a larger dose than required, take it for an extended period, and not to use it in a different way than your health care provider has prescribed.
In replacement therapy for opioids, Methadone acts as an alternative to heroin and other illegal opioids to minimise withdrawal symptoms in cases of addiction.
As an alternative for heroin and other opioids, some people prefer Methadone because it is cheap and has a low potential for drug abuse compared to other opioids.
Is Methadone legal?
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, Methadone is a schedule 2 controlled drug. As a controlled drug, you can possess it or sell it only under a doctor’s prescription. If you are found in possession or selling Methadone without any professional prescription, you are liable for conviction or a fine.
How safe is Methadone?
Just like other opioids, Methadone can have severe effects. However, when you take Methadone as prescribed, it is safe and highly effective, and you should strictly follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Some of the things that can lead to misuse of Methadone include:
- Taking larger doses than prescribed
- Taking methadone dose for a longer time than instructed
- Using Methadone in a different way than prescribed
While seeking treatment at a health care facility, you should be honest with your physician as you talk to him and answer all the questions correctly during evaluation. If you fail to speak out the truth, you may have an underlying condition that might deteriorate, resulting in severe effects when you use Methadone.
You should tell your doctor if there is a family history of excessive alcohol or substance abuse and any other factor that could have led you to the addiction. Furthermore, you should be candid to your doctor if you or any other family member has a history of drug abuse and overdose of prescription drugs.
Also, it is crucial to reveal if you have ever had mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. If you have a mental illness, chances are high you may misuse the drugs.
For some people, methadone may cause breathing problems. If you start methadone medication and experience breathing difficulty, inform your doctor immediately. For caution, you should tell your doctor if you have any respiratory complications such as asthma and lung diseases. The risk for breathing problems as a result of Methadone is high, mainly in older people.
How can Methadone be misused and abused?
Methadone can be misused and abused even when prescribed. Also, some people obtain Methadone without a prescription and use it. When you misuse and abuse Methadone, you may experience life-threatening side effects.
Misuse and abuse of Methadone occur when you take more doses than prescribed and when you share your dosage with another person experiencing similar symptoms to you. Further, when you take methadone doses longer than specified and when you store drugs in an open place where anyone, including children, can reach out to them.
The risk increases if you take Methadone with certain drugs that contain alcohol or drinking alcohol while taking methadone. Similarly, using other illicit drugs during your methadone treatment may cause serious side effects.
What are the common side effects?
Methadone is a depressant that may cause side effects. You should inform your doctor if you experience side effects. Methadone may cause the following side effects:
- Stomach pain
- Itchy skin
- Slow breathing
- Vision problems
- Difficulty urinating
What are the serious side effects of methadone?
Methadone can cause some side effects that can be life-threatening. You should seek help urgently immediately you notice any of the following side effects:
- Problem with breathing
- Pains in the chest
- Skin rashes
- Extreme drowsiness
- Extreme fast heart rate
Can you overdose on Methadone?
Methadone is an opioid, and if you take too much Methadone, you can suffer from life-threatening consequences. If you take too much Methadone, whether during prescription or without prescription, you may suffer from the following symptoms that may require immediate medical attention.
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Too high blood pressure
- Constricted pupils
- Extremely slowed breathing
- Nail discolouration
- Bluish skin colour
Can Methadone cause addiction?
Just like other opiates, Methadone can be addictive. It helps in heroin and other illegal opiate addiction recovery, but it can also pose some risks. If you overdose or use it for a long time, you may be at risk for methadone addiction. Further, some people who use Methadone to relieve pain can also be at risk of becoming dependent on Methadone. Over time, as you use Methadone, your body builds tolerance, such that you require to take more amounts of the drug than previously to experience the same effects.
Methadone use in pregnancy
For pregnant mothers with opiate dependence, methadone treatment can be used but with great caution. Methadone replacement is safe for expectant mothers since it prevents withdrawal symptoms of opiate dependence. However, opiate dependence withdrawal effects on pregnant women can cause miscarriage or premature births.
Since Methadone crosses through the placenta, the foetus may experience dependence. In addition, when born, babies may experience withdrawal symptoms that may begin minutes after birth. Therefore, methadone treatment should be strictly limited to pregnant women with opioid use disorder.
How effective is Methadone in Opioid Addiction?
In opioid addiction, Methadone is prescribed as replacement therapy. Therefore, Methadone does not cure opiate addiction, but it is deemed safer than heroin and other illegal opioids.
Methadone replacement therapy works by preventing opiate withdrawal symptoms. As a safer replacement, Methadone does cause the same euphoric feeling as heroin. Further, Methadone blocks the euphoric feeling of heroin, thereby reducing the heroin cravings. If you are being treated with Methadone and attempt to use heroin, Methadone acts by blocking the euphoric effects of heroin. However, you should note Methadone too can cause some euphoric effects.
Typically, prescribed Methadone is taken orally, which is safer than injection. However, users of illegal opiates commonly use injection methods to abuse heroin and other illicit opioids. Since most people abuse these illicit opioids in the backstreets and under filthy conditions, users are likely to share needles and syringes. As a result, users are at risk of contracting blood-borne HIV and other health complications. When used as prescribed in opioid replacement, Methadone helps by reducing the rate of disease transmissions and deaths associated with these injections.
In terms of cost, Methadone is cheaper compared to heroin and other illegal opiates. In addition, when you are on methadone treatment, you do not need a lot of cash to acquire it. Hence you will unlikely to engage in criminal activities to get money to buy it.
Methadone replacement treatment has been found to reduce the use of illicit opiates such as heroin and lower the contraction of infectious diseases transmitted through sharing needles. In addition, methadone treatment has helped reduce crimes since you don’t need to engage in illegal activities to get money, reduce mortality, and improve the users’ social life of illicit opiates.
How can Methadone cause deaths?
Even though Methadone has been proven to treat opiate dependence, it also produces some euphoric effects. As a result, it is highly regulated even to patients who use it as a prescription drug. In addition, misuse of Methadone can cause life-threatening consequences, such as coma and death.
People suffering from heroin addiction are more vulnerable to abuse methadone. Consequently, some people who are addicted to illegal opiates overdose on Methadone. While trying to increase the effects to the levels of their previous opiate addiction. Simply put, some people try to get the strong impact of illicit opiates such as heroin from methadone medication.
In pursuit of substantial euphoric effects, opiate addicts use Methadone as a substance to make them high and not as a medication to curb addiction. The impact of methadone overdose can be severe to the point of causing deaths if you do not seek urgent medical attention.
Further, another risk that arises is relapse. Methadone is a treatment that has to end at some point when your doctor finds it appropriate. Towards the end of the medication, you are taken through methadone detoxification. Unfortunately, after detoxification, some people end up relapsing to opiates. The relapse is sometimes attributed to abstinence syndrome that exists after long-term opiate addiction. When addicts relapse, they may end up using high amounts of heroin and other opiates. These illicit opiates are dangerous and can easily cause deaths.
Being a depressant, Methadone can cause fatal consequences if you mix it with other depressants, such as benzodiazepines and alcohol. In addition, combining Methadone with alcohol can cause deadly effects such as severely low blood pressure, slowed breathing, and ultimately death.
In Scotland, most deaths resulted from combining Methadone with other substances, also called poly-drug use. For example, some people make a cocktail of Methadone and benzodiazepine to enhance the effects. Mixing Methadone and other drugs have been implicated in the rise of deaths caused by drugs.
What are the alternatives to Methadone?
With the continued use of methadone treatment for opiate withdrawal and pain-relieving, the risk of addiction is also high. Methadone treatment can be effective if done correctly in strict medical supervision. On the other hand, the dangers of methadone misuse and abuse can cause severe consequences. Due to the increase in methadone misuse and abuse of Methadone, drug-related deaths have increased.
Though methadone treatment can be safer and effective, it may not work for everyone. Therefore, there are other alternatives.
Suboxone is a drug that may be used to treat opiate addiction, such as heroin. It contains buprenorphine and naloxone substances. Though it can be addictive, it is safer and has fewer side effects than Methadone during pregnancy.
Similarly, Zubsolv medicine is another alternative that has fewer side effects compared to Methadone.
Importantly, you should consult a specialist to learn more about the alternative treatments and the most appropriate treatment that would apply to you. You can call us on 0203 955 7700 for consultations and help.
Where do you get safe opiate addiction treatment?
Things can take a tragic turn if a specialist does not adequately monitor your methadone treatment.
The process of recovering from opiate addiction requires close monitoring, and at our facility, we recommend a combination of methadone treatment with complete rehabilitation and recovery services.
For effective opiate addiction treatment, get in touch with us. We are ready and willing to discuss with you the best and most appropriate treatment for you. Please call us on 0203 955 7700 for consultations and help.
If you are looking for opiate addiction treatment, consider contacting us for a safer treatment monitored by qualified specialists. Please call us on 0203 955 7700 for an appointment.
Scotland has had increased drug-related deaths. Though Methadone is a prescription drug commonly used in curbing opiates addiction, it is also blamed for increased drug-related complications and deaths. Some people abuse and overdose on Methadone, a move that can be potentially fatal. Further, some people mix Methadone with other depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepine, resulting in life-threatening effects.