Can You Overdose on Methadone?

Getting off opioids is a difficult task. Whether you starting taking them because they were prescribed to you by a doctor after surgery or you were just curious and thought it would be fun; the dependency comes quick and then the addiction can run your life for many years. Most addicts stay addicted because of the fears of withdrawal. Addicts would rather risk the chance of overdosing than go through withdrawal. It just proves how powerful the disease of addiction is.

There are many maintenance drugs to aid in detoxing or weaning off opioids such as heroin and oxycodone; be it prescribed or street drugs. It is thought by some in the recovery community that maintenance drugs are just trading one drug for another and not being sober if you continue to use these maintenance drugs for long periods of time.

Can You Overdose on Methadone?

What are Medication Maintenance Drugs?

A few maintenance drugs that are used in today’s opioid crisis are Suboxone, Subutex, and Sublocade. They contain Buprenorphine, which is an opioid itself, but unlike other opioids, such as heroin and oxycodone, it only partially stimulates the brain’s opioid receptor. This partial binding leads to what is known as a “ceiling effect” for opioid effects such as euphoria and respiratory depression. The ceiling effect makes buprenorphine safer in two key ways: it results in a lower risk of addiction than other opioids, and also results in a lower risk of respiratory problems.

Another opioid drug that is used as a maintenance drug that came around World War II is Methadone. It was created in Germany around World War II to treat pain. It didn’t make its way to the United States till after the war but was not widely used due to the painkillers misunderstood side effects it caused. Like most painkillers, patients started becoming addicted to the drug and it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that it was used regularly in the treatment of other opioid addiction called Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT).

Why is Methadone Addictive?

Even though Methadone does not create the “high” or euphoric effect that opioid addicts chase, it does have a sedative effect. You can also grow a tolerance to it which means you have to take more for the drug to work which in turn grows into a dependence which turns into an addiction. And where there is an addiction, there is a chance for overdose.

Per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2017, about 261,000 people age 12 and older reported using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once in their life. Methadone was responsible for 3,194 overdose deaths in 2017, or about 1 per 100,000 people.4 In 2014, it accounted for 1% of all opioids prescribed for pain but was responsible for 23% of all prescription opioid deaths.

What makes it so easy to overdose on methadone?

Other drugs like heroin or crack work quickly, but the effects don’t last long. The effects of methadone, on the other hand, come on very slowly when swallowed. It takes hours to reach its full effect—and 24 hours or more to wear off. Like heroin, oxycodone and other opioids, too much methadone can make you go to sleep and stop breathing. The risk of overdose with methadone is especially dangerous if you:

  • take someone else’s full dose at once—everyone handles methadone differently, and one person’s dose can kill another person
  • take a little bit and then take more later, trying to get high—not understanding that an overdose can happen many hours later
  • top methadone up with other drugs to feel high—then, because methadone acts slowly and lasts a long time, you might fall asleep, overdose and die.

You can die by taking methadone by itself—but it is especially dangerous to take it with other opioids, alcohol or other sedating drugs like Xanax, Ativan or Valium.

While there are some positives and success from Methadone Maintenance Treatment like quitting Illegal street drugs such as heroin and putting yourself in less risk of criminal acts to gain access to drugs, it is still a drug. It might not be as bad in some ways, but you are replacing one addiction for another. You once we’re unable to stop using heroin, now you are unable to stop using methadone. You still depend on it to function. The prescribed minimum does for methadone is said to be once every day for a year and that’s just the minimum. This is no way to live.

We are Here to Help with Methadone Addiction

We at Allure Detox understand the struggles of trying to quit methadone and can help you safely detox off this narcotic. To detox from methadone safely, an addicted individual must receive medical supervision. Our medically assisted West Palm Beach methadone detox center relies on comfort medication and around the clock care to safely detox our patients from Methadone. We know that methadone has an extremely long half-life that’s why men and women addicted to it must be tapered off slowly. By placing our patients on a supervised taper schedule, the likelihood of completing the detox process and treatment program is much higher.

Each member of our West Palm Beach drug detox team specializes in methadone addiction recovery. Our center is modern and comfortable. We allow our clients to rest during their detox and attend counseling and group therapy sessions. Our counselors’ first work to help each patient understand that their addiction can be overcome with help and support. We focus on relapse prevention techniques so that once you’re off methadone; you’ll have the proper tools and knowledge in-place to avoid using it again. Contact our methadone detox specialists around the clock for a confidential assessment.