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Methadone is a synthetic drug that can relieve severe and chronic pain. It was first used in Germany during World War II has a cheap alternative when morphine supplies were low.

It is now used for patients with long-term pain (like cancer patients) and recovering drug addicts. Methadone is also used illicitly because it is a narcotic that targets the brain’s dopamine center and induces a euphoric state, or “high.”

With that being said, when methadone is administered to drug addicts in a controlled environment, like a drug rehabilitation center, it can reduce symptoms of withdrawal. That’s because it is a narcotic, similar to heroin or opium, but its effects are milder and less addictive than the drugs mentioned. Studies have shown that individuals who utilize methadone in their treatment plan have a much better time managing withdrawal and greatly reduce their risk of relapse. Additionally, managing the withdrawal symptoms enables recovering addicts to more effectively focus on therapy and recovery. Once an individual has a stronger grasp on their recovery and sobriety, their doctor would then wean them off of the methadone.

While there are some benefits to methadone, the fact of the matter is that it is still a synthetic narcotic that carries the risk of addiction and dangerous side effects. Anyone who ingests methadone should be prepared to accept the physical and psychological risks that come with it.

Some of these side effects are considered mild and short term, such as:

Just like other narcotics, it is difficult to predict how every individual will react to methadone and there are more serious side effects that will require immediate medical attention. This is why it’s important that methadone is only taken under close doctor supervision and that an individual only take the recommended dosage.

Some more serious side effects, all of which can result in death, include:

Finally, in addition to the above-mentioned physical side effects, methadone also carries the risk of psychological side effects, such as:

While these side effects can seem scary, and should definitely encourage everyone going into rehabilitation to consider risk vs. reward, most doctors agree that every day spent in recovery is a positive result. As long recovering addicts are closely monitored and follow strict guidelines, methadone can be a helpful tool to achieving sobriety.

Related: Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone

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