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Long term effects of methadone on the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

Long term effects of methadone on the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

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Methadone abuse has adverse effects on the brain

Methadone is a useful medication when prescribed to people detoxing and recovering from opioid drug addiction and helps lower the harmful and risky consequences. However, due to it’s price and easy availability, methadone is also a common drug of abuse for many people who have not been prescribed or need it for therapeutic reasons.

What are methadone’s effects on the brain?

Methadone in most people produces feelings of sedation and contentment as a result of its action on the opioid receptors of the brain. When methadone is abused, one of the main reason for the abuse are the feelings of high and lethargy. However, in those who abuse methadone continuously for a longer period of time, more serious side effects can be observed. Those adverse effects include:

  • confusion
  • depression
  • disorientation
  • hallucinations
  • mania
  • mental clouding
  • mood changes
  • restlessness
  • sleep problems

Methadone dependence and addiction

Methadone is an extremely physically addictive drug, and the risk of addiction is higher when it is not used under the supervision of a doctor or addiction treatment provider. Dependence to methadone is developed in both, therapeutic users and abusers. It is simply the result of our organism getting adapted to the presence of the medication, so when doses are lowered or abruptly stopped, withdrawal symptoms occur.

Methadone effects on the brain questions

Now it’s your turn! Send us your comments and questions by posting them in the section at the end of the page and we’ll try to provide a personal and prompt response. Also, if you like our infographic and find the information useful, feel free to SHARE it.

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16 Responses to “Long term effects of methadone on the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)
10:00 pm July 29th, 2016

I been on meth for 25 years . i stopped using all drugs. My urines been clean for years. Im on 160 mg. Of meth. I know its a high dose. Ive been afraid the meth has done something to.my brain at that high dose but being the addict that i am. I dont want to get off cause i. Think of the meth as my drug. I been reading about meth and what it does to your body. I wish there was a. Way to get off of it with out any withdraw.

4:52 am October 2nd, 2016

I’ve been on 140mg of meth for two years. It has completely made my opiate cravings dissappear. I’ve been told that just as diabetes patients need insulin, addicts need methadone to heal themselves from resorting to harder drugs. I believe it has saved my life although some of my addiction counselors wish that I would get off of it. I however feel that I know what’s best between staying on or getting off when it comes to myself. I can’t speak for other people.

12:03 am October 17th, 2016

I have been on methadone 80mg for 8 years and with a lot of the longterm symptons i personally havent had.

9:38 pm January 24th, 2017

I wad on 90 mg of methadone for 11 years. It took me 10 months before I felt normal. The first 3 months was pure hell.Even with suboxone

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:45 pm January 26th, 2017

Thanks for sharing Braak. Hope everything is okay now.

1:44 am February 1st, 2017

I have a question. I work in a MMT and also have worked in mental health settings for years. In working with folks that have untreated Bipolar Disorder and are prescribed methadone, I noticed something interesting. Methadone seems to act like a mood stabilizer to varying degrees with these individuals. Not as well as traditional mood stabilizers but fairly well. Other folks working in other clinics including some doctors have noticed this as well. I found some literature that supports this but very little. What is your thoughts on this matter and are you aware of any research in this area?

12:32 am March 7th, 2017

I have come with a open heart to share and also testify my path with my kind.The CLINIC 5 years ago dor me with 3 kids stay home mom was a immediate Saviour for such a time as this I did well for couple years.Went thru alot Marital issues which lead to using xans the last 3 years.So total of 4 years on max cause i wasnt using right max bout 300 mg a day and 5 of the xan bars a day…I lost my mind and my family.x3 occurances where I know I dont know why im still here today I am.3 times I can recall at the end when I lost everything i passed out in That Sweet medicated peaceful Moment something woke me lifted my body up and over bed I was dying Vomiting all alone in hotel room..Theres no way once I passed out i would sleep at lest for good 10 hours once i mixed both… I was 2 hours in slumber I know who lifted me up my goodness..that was x1 2nd occurance 2 nights later I passed out with cigg and woke up to matress flaming.3rd time I had ran my bath woke up with my nose and body out of water just enough had been couple hours so water was freezing I was shivering..I Am so blessed and thankful for good it brought me and bad and to My God I medically detoxed out clinic cause I had lost everything I did it He’ll I font know how I went down 5mg day ..Once fully off My mind was like a fuzz ball I couldn’t think or see my emotions and feelings were in full force again .Cravings for whatever full force ..I can say I started on suboxone after about few months of chasing spped to just make me feel normal concentrate …I’m still noti ing a lot of after effects in mind …I wasted so much time and family moments I should have went suboxone I didn’t.Shoulda coulda woulda.I’m glad I was taken thru that it plays huge part in my Redeeming Story…I’m still picking up pieces ..With every fiber of my being In thankful for air I’m breathing…I pray for All my Kind in Heart and Good Vibes to each of you..

4:47 am March 11th, 2017

Hey everyone I can tell you this with a great deal of experience . I have been on opiates for about 20-21yrs now because of chronic pain syndrome first starting with dihydrocodiene,hydrocodone,tramadol,darvacet,oxycodone,Demerol,morphine sulfate and maybe more I can’t remember but started on the methadone probably 11yrs now the morph.sulfate 24hr wasn’t lasting 24hr. So the dr. Started 15mg.of methadone with the MS for 24 hrs pain relief then decided to go strictly methadone 15mg 4xday=60mg a day and been ever sinse dec.2016 the V.A.decised to cut all chronic pain patients meds due to new DEA restrictions so the VA sent me to a civilian painclinic amd I had to stop taking methadone and they prescribed MS Contin 30mg.2xday and first oxycodone 10mg.4xdaybut now switched the oxycodone to opana 10mg.4xday but let me tell you I have never in my life been in so much pain and completely totally miserable I can’t sleep can’t hardly eat have loose bowels and just feel like pretty much like dying it’s been 14days now and still physically sick.

11:45 pm April 8th, 2017

Yes after 12 years being on methadone ,I have experienced all of this. Fortunately I have enough financial resources at 68 to look after myself, but barely now as my food intolerances have become a major issue. I am well educated and I have a very strong mind . I seem “bullet proof” to all the measures I have taken through mainstream and complimentary/alternative medicine. I have spent a small fortune on this.

I am not suicidal since I have strong feelings about that having lost a family member plus friends and clients to the type of “inverted homicide” . I have recently come to have noticed that the alcohol abuse… which helps tremendously with the neuropatic pain …in my view, is a forum of slow suicide. I need help with my burning neuropathies ,which the opioids and ,benzos (to sleep) drugs only minorly mask…and come with many unwanted side effects…. and I need a way out of this place.

When I compare my high functioning healthy self at 50 to 55 to my now desperate state at 68, I can hardly believe it some days. I am willing to try almost anything to reduce the NP and then sobriety is easy since I would have not need to drink and have proved that by being C & S for 32 years from 25 to 57. I now feel like I am in a “no exit hell”

Although I am totally against suicide, however,I wonder why the ‘Higher Power” does not just take me home? I am a deeply spiritual person but not a religious fanatic having been raised in the old United Church by loving and involved parents and then finding some practical insights through the various forms of “North American Buddhism”

I gather with all the suffering in the world(it is the children that bothers me the most having raised two find boys and now have grandchildren) has a purpose ,however ,so far ,I have only deepened my compassion for all those who suffer. Is that the message? When is enough…enough?

Kindest Regards


“One day I walk in flowers
one day I walk on stones
Today I walk in hours
One day I shall be home
One day I shall be home”

Bruce Cockburn

3:11 pm April 10th, 2017

My husband has been on methadone since November 2016 he was on hospice. He is off hospice now and we are trying to get him off the drug. He was on 45mg a day, and over the past few weeks we have gotten him down to 30mg. Is that to fast? He complains of stomach pains is that normal for withdraw? He is moody as well. I give him ativan to help with the anxiety and moods. I guess our goal is to get him off of this medicine.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:10 pm April 14th, 2017

Hi Leigh. Abdominal pain is very common withdrawal symptom from methadone. I suggest that you speak with his doctor that can help you create an individualized tapering schedule. Also, you may consult with a pharmacist to recommend some over-the-counter aid, home remedies, teas, vitamins and supplements that can ease withdrawal.

2:20 am April 25th, 2017

If quiting methadone cold turkey how long does it take to get out of my system. I’ve been at a clinic for about 4years. I was up to 100mg and decreased to 70mg and just decided I couldn’t afford it anymore. So it’s been a week so far and I don’t feel any withdraws. That’s my main concern.

8:55 am April 27th, 2017

Note to all. You should never take dosages higher than prescribed by your doctor or clinic, and medical supervision is advisable when discontinuing.

11:01 am April 28th, 2017

Recovering addict with severe chronic pain…went to the clinic a few years but the crowds there are bad influences and I’d start back on my old ways….the last clinic I was at wanted everyone at 300-400mg so they would refrain from all drug use and they’d have you hooked for life. I was prescribed 500mg+ of oxycodone a day by several doctors….then when that went away,switched to illicit pills,then heroin and finally the methadone clinic for 3 years where I got up as high as 150mg….I kept testing positive for cannibis and they threatened me with expulsion if I didn’t up my dose….testing positive formheroin was no problem and was again met with a dose increase.

1) a high dose of methadone is just as bad for you as any high dose of opiates,probably worse long term than any!! You people on 60mg+ are just fooling yourself that you are stone cold sober. Mark my words,when you cut your dose back,it’s like a fog blowing away from your brain. Please don’t think I’m belittling your sobriety,I’m not. You don’t even realize it yourself to you start cutting back on your dose. Before you tell me I’m wrong,try weening down over a period of time 1-2mg at a time. A long steady WD,not what a clinic forces you into 5-10mg at a time.

2)of course methadone works as a mood stabilizer like all narcotics,that’s why it’s called “self medicating”. No offense to you but every addiction counselor should know that,it’s the basics…..suboxone/bupenorphine has actually been going on clinical trials as an anti depressant/mood elevator for while….so is ketamine if that says anything about big pharma

3) methadone is the worlds hardest to get off!! I left the clinic almost 2 years ago and managed to ween myself off to 4mg daily and it’s like I’m stuck there. I can stretch dosing to 36-40 hours but I feel really run down and my legs hurt for days. I have major trauma to both legs

4) methadone is the gold standard for neuropathic pain,even at very,very small doses

5)some people have teeth problems on methadone. I know myself and many others who did……don’t believe them when they tell you it’s just an urban legend.

6) for many people,methadone causes them to crave sweets(could be another reasons for tooth problems)

7) many people put on weight after being on methadone. Myself I dropped 45lbs after weening myself down. I’ve always weighed 165-175 since I was a teen and I weighed as much 220lbs when I was at the clinic. I’m back to 175 now.

And most importantly?

Most pain/addiction problems could be solved with marijuana instead of opiates!! But big company’s don’t get rich doing that….or by getting you off drugs,you just have a different dealer….

Don’t get me wrong,I’m glad there is a methadone clinic. At the time,it truly saved my life and I am greatful for that……but they try there damndest to make you a slave to it!!! There’s big profits from our suffering!

The people at the clinic I went on 300mg+ were usually lortab addicts!! I was shooting fentanyl and 70mg kept me from having WDs and most cravings.

Good luck! Just believe in Jesus and resist the temptation so you don’t wind up a statistic! And keep good company! God bless you all.

9:55 pm September 14th, 2017

If you plan to taper off methadone, plan on it being a lifestyle change if you want to experience as little withdrawal symptoms as possible. You need to do everything possible to get your body producing endorphins. I’m talking about Christmas lights, music, exercise (especially swimming), supplements (take nutridone or create your own cocktail), B12 & Vit C for absorption, sunlight, smile, laugh, say positive things out loud, and the list goes on. Trust me when I say that half-measures don’t work and if your current environment isn’t conducive to you getting better, do whatever it takes to find one that is and work on a new environment to go back to when you’re done with the detoxing. I don’t have money, but I have a lot of things I could sell and a job provides money and accountability. Find someone or something to hold yourself accountable to. I hadn’t gone 1 day without a cigarette in 26 years and I met someone who hated it and I had wanted to quit for a long time but I knew I’d fail if I didn’t have the right motivation and for me, it was this person. I quit and never thought twice about it. I’m thankful that this person came into my life and even though they aren’t anymore, I know now that given the right motivation, I can succeed. I’m not saying it’s gotta be a person or that I should sit around and wait for the right thing to come along, I am saying, I didn’t know how I was ever going to quit smoking even though I hated it and wanted to quit. Thanks for listening and I hope it helps someone.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:10 pm September 15th, 2017

Thank you for sharing, Otto.

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