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Back to Medicines A to Z. Methadone is a man-made opioid also known as an opiate. Other opioids include codeinemorphinefentanyl and diamorphine heroin. Methadone is used to help you stop taking heroin.
It reduces your withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking, shivering and other flu-like symptoms. It also helps stop cravings. Some people start taking methadone for maintenance therapy. However many of them go on to detox and become free of heroin and methadone. Methadone is also used for end of life care and severe pain. This is usually prescribed by a pain specialist and comes as tablets or injections. If you take heroin and want to stop, you can ask a GP or local drug treatment service for help with heroin addiction. You're entitled to the same confidential NHS care as anyone else.
Find your local drug treatment service. It can also be given to newborn babies in hospital, to help with heroin or methadone withdrawal symptoms. Methadone may not be suitable for some people. Tell your doctor before starting methadone treatment if you:. With liquid methadone, swallow the medicine in one go. You can have a drink of water afterwards if you like.
You will usually start on 10mg to 30mg, taken once a day. This can be increased slowly, until your withdrawal symptoms are under control and your cravings stop. Many people then take a regular dose of between 60mg and mg a day. However your dose may be different. Always follow your treatment plan. You will get your first prescription or script from your GP, or a prescriber at your drug treatment service. This may be a nurse, doctor or a prescribing pharmacist. They will ask you to choose a pharmacy to take your prescriptions to.
You can pick a pharmacy near your home or work. You may be given your medicine to take home, instead of having supervised doses at a pharmacy. It's important to store your methadone safely. Your key worker will discuss storage options with you and can offer advice. When you start your treatment, and until your dose is stabilised, a key worker or pharmacist will usually supervise you as you take methadone.
This can take up to 3 months. When you have stabilised on methadone, it may be possible to take some of your doses at home. This can take up to 12 weeks. In this case, skip the missed dose and take your next one at the usual time. Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose. Tell your key worker or your doctor that you missed a dose.
They may ask you to return the leftover liquid. If you cannot get to your pharmacy or drug treatment centre until the next day, they may not be able to give you any methadone. They may need to speak to your prescriber first. Always check your treatment plan. It is important to take the right dose, according to your treatment plan and prescription. If you take too much methadone you could be at risk of overdose. Too much methadone may make you very sleepy, and can slow down or stop your breathing.
This can be life-threatening. Follow the instructions you have been given. Naloxone is a medicine that is sometimes used to reverse a methadone overdose. This is because you will run out of methadone before you get your next supply. Like all medicines, methadone can cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only minor ones. You are more likely to get side effects if you are on a high dose of methadone. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or key worker if the side effects bother you or do not go away:.
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction anaphylaxis to methadone. These are not all the side effects of methadone. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet. Some of these side effects usually improve with time, as you get used to methadone. If recreational drugs are part of your life, getting help can really improve the outlook for you and your baby. You can take methadone when you are pregnant, to help you stop taking heroin and having withdrawals. You will have a special care plan and will also need extra monitoring from your doctor, midwife or key worker.
If you become pregnant while taking methadone, speak to your doctor or prescriber. You may need to have more appointments. This is to make sure that the dose you take is right for you. Sometimes your dose may need to be adjusted as your pregnancy progresses. If you take methadone at the end of pregnancy, your baby may be born dependent on methadone. Your midwife Symptoms of methadone addiction check your baby for any withdrawal symptoms.
They can be treated in hospital if they need it. Talk to your doctor, midwife or health visitor if you want to breastfeed while taking methadone. If your baby is healthy and you are stable on methadone, you will usually be able to breastfeed while continuing your treatment. It may also help reduce withdrawal symptoms in your baby. Small amounts of methadone pass into breast milk. This has been linked to breathing problems and drowsiness in a few breastfed babies. Breastfeeding will also benefit you and your baby. Your midwife, or health visitor, together with your prescriber can advise you how to wean your baby gradually.
Tell your midwife, health visitor or doctor immediately if you notice your baby is not feeding as well as usual, seems unusually sleepy or has difficulty breathing, or if you have any other concerns about your baby. Some medicines and methadone can affect each other and increase the risk of side effects or overdose. Do not take morphine, buprenorphine, codeine or any other opioids while taking methadone. It's usually ok to take methadone with paracetamolibuprofen or aspirin.
Do not take methadone with painkillers that contain codeine. You will be more likely to get side effects and increase the risk of overdose. Painkillers that contain codeine include co-codamol codeine and paracetamolNurofen Plus codeine and ibuprofenco-codaprin codeine and aspirin and Solpadeine codeine, paracetamol, ibuprofen and caffeine. Some migraine treatments and cough syrups also contain codeine.
Always check the ingredients on the packaging. Speak to a pharmacist or a doctor if you need any advice about pain relief while taking methadone. There may be a problem taking St John's wort with methadone. It can stop the methadone from reducing your Symptoms of methadone addiction symptoms properly. It's not possible to say whether other herbal medicines and supplements are safe to take with methadone.
They're not tested in the same Symptoms of methadone addiction as pharmacy and prescription medicines. They're generally not tested for the effect they have on other medicines. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal medicines, vitamins or supplements.
Methadone will cause feelings of relaxation and reduce pain, but it will not give you the same high or euphoric feeling as heroin. It works in treating heroin addiction by reducing the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It is long acting and this means it stays in your body a lot longer than morphine and heroin. Methadone reaches its peak effect after 2 hours. Your starting dose will be increased gradually each day, as needed, until you no longer have withdrawal symptoms. Once your dose is stabilised, a single methadone dose will work for 24 to 36 hours.
You will stay on methadone until you decide to come off it. When you are ready to do this, your key worker will help you do this reduce your dose of methadone gradually. Weaning off heroin and methadone completely, as part of a detox programme, normally takes at least 12 weeks. If you are taking methadone for maintenance therapy, you will keep taking methadone long term, as a substitute for heroin. If you have a maintenance therapy treatment plan, you can take methadone long term as a substitute for heroin.
Methadone slows down your body functions and reduces physical pain as well as feelings of anxiety. If you take it for a long time, it is possible to become physically and mentally dependent on methadone. If you are worried about becoming dependent on methadone, speak to your doctor or key worker. They can agree on a treatment plan with you to try to gradually reduce your dose of methadone.
If you are dependent on methadone, you may get physical or psychological symptoms if you miss a dose, or when your dose is reduced too quickly. Physical symptoms include feeling restless or anxious, runny nose, sweating, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea and muscle cramps.
Psychological symptoms include craving heroin, or feeling you need to increase your dose of methadone. If you want to stop taking methadone, you will need to Symptoms of methadone addiction a new treatment plan. Your GP or key worker will help you to reduce your dose very gradually. This is to help prevent withdrawal symptoms. If you stop taking your methadone suddenly, you will have withdrawal symptoms. These include feeling restless or anxious, runny nose, sweating, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea and muscle cramps. Alcohol will make you feel sleepier and can increase the risk of serious side effects when taking methadone.
Eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice can affect how your methadone works. It can make side effects worse.Symptoms of methadone addiction
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What Is Methadone?