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Methadone long term effects on the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

Methadone long term effects on the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

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What is methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication that has been used in the treatment of heroin addicts worldwide since the mid-1960s. However, long-term methadone treatment has been found to cause changes in the brain by affecting nerve cells in the brain. As a result, scientists have observed changes in cognitive functioning, learning ability and memory capacity in individuals who abused the medication.

How methadone affects the brain?

Methadone acts on the same brain structures  and processes as addictive opioid drugs do. This helps people who’ve struggled with addiction stop their harmful habits and stay off opioid drugs, however it should never be viewed as a cure for addiction. Methadone should always be used in conjunction with appropriate psycho-social treatments and therapies. The end goal is individuals to eventually be slowly and gradually taken off methadone and continue to live substance free.

Methadone’s effects on the brain include:

  • changes in cognitive functioning
  • learning difficulties
  • memory problems
  • mood and behavior changes
  • affected nerve cells and neurotransmitters
  • …another one  of methadone’s effects is addiction to the medication, although it’s prescribed in the treatment of narcotic addiction and dependence along with treatment of withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid drugs use.

Methadone brain effects questions

Methadone treatment is very useful for opioid drug addicts that have an uncontrolled, compulsive, and harmful behavior associated with narcotics addiction. However, the possible side effects of long-term methadone abuse should not be ignored.

If you have any questions or thoughts about our infographic, feel free to post them in the comments section at the end of the page. Also, if you like our infographic you can SHARE it to continue spreading useful information.

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23 Responses to “Methadone long term effects on the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)
regina
5:53 am November 25th, 2015

Hi my name is Gina and I just want people to know to really think about getting on this,I was on this for a few years ,I was on 150MG of methadone and one day I didn’t have a income to pay so they made me go down 10 mg a day ,and I felt like I was dying ,I lost 50 pounds in one month and stayed sick for months so please think really hard before deciding to get on methadone ,I recommend suboxone good luck

2:27 pm December 2nd, 2015

Thanks for sharing Regina. I hope our readers will consider your advice.

Jeff MD PhD
6:13 pm December 10th, 2015

All medications have side effects, and in general, the most deadly diseases justify medications with greater side effects. Drugs used to treat cancer, for example, are linked to dementia, sterility, and other cancers. We accept those side effects given the morbidity and mortality associated with most cancers.

Given that opioid overdose is now a leading cause of death, the side effects of medications used to treat opioid dependence, including methadone and buprenorphine, are a tremendous bargain. This article’s comment– that ‘the possible side-effects of long-term methadone abuse should not be ignored’, shows how the stigma of addiction affects the discussions about treatment options.

Can you imagine an article stressing the ‘long term side effects’ of treating breast cancer– implying that patients with cancer have a choice whether or not to accept treatment? What’s the difference? Does the author mean to imply that addicts have more ‘choice’ about being sick, than people with other diseases?

1:39 pm December 15th, 2015

Hello Jeff. Thank you for sharing a great point. However, when you are under medical treatment for cancer you are made aware of the possible consequences and side effects, while in many cases it is not talked about the adverse effects methadone might have on people. Of course, when the positive outcomes outweigh the negative it should be end of discussion, but many doctors keep prescribing even when there may not be real need of the medication. Also many people keep taking methadone (even obtain it online or on the streets) and are not aware of the consequences, which include overdoses – as you mentioned.

The author is only informing about the negative side effects methadone can have on the brain after long-term use or abuse of this medication. We have read many people’s testimonies who frequently include “I had no idea…” and “my doctor never told me…”

kevin
11:33 am August 12th, 2016

This is for REGINA: I think it’s unethical to take a person who’s been on 150 mg daily for a few years and then, because of financial difficulties, to subject that person to forced withdrawal by reducing their dose 10 MG A DAY!? That is not only unethical, it’s dangerous for the addict’s health. By the way, Regina, Suboxone will not be that different from the effects of Methadone. Reducing the dose of EITHER of those 2 drugs must be done gradually. A 10 mg. per day reduction is TOO MUCH, TOO QUICKLY. The withdrawal will be unpleasant.

Regina
5:40 pm August 12th, 2016

This is for Kevin !! yes I agree making someone go down 10 mg a day is mentally and physically draining ,i felt like I was dying and my multiple sclerosis was the worst I have ever experience,but I had no choice and when someone other than yourself tells you games over depression kicks in and that’s why people go out and get on heroin ,i was that person that would never touch drugs ,I couldn’t take cold medication it would put me to sleep ,but I found out I have multiple sclerosis and Dr’s put you on this and if I want control of my pain stay on top with my pain medication,then emergency c-sections for the birth of my twins ,a partial and full hysterectomy and being in mentally and physically abusing relationship doesn’t help but don’t get me wrong I take 100% responsible for my actions but at the same time I followed my Dr’s orders that let to my addiction, what I am trying to day is everyone starts out the same way following the Dr’s orders and when Dr’s take you off something after so many years your body will never be the same and that’s what leads to heroin methadone ect and I believe there alot that needs to be changed when it comes to all of this

Amymarie
6:19 pm August 24th, 2016

Im on methadone….. In Dec it will be a year….. I hate being on it but I hate taking pills and then going through withdrawals….. I’m dammed if I do dammed if I don’t. I need help with treatment. I have state insurance. I need to know what other options are out there for me.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:49 pm September 7th, 2016

Hi Amymarie.I suggest you call the helpline number displayed on our site to get in touch with our trusted treatment consultants who can help you access adequate treatment program.

Jennifer
12:38 am September 21st, 2016

Hi, I was on methedone for 6yrs for addiction to opiates. MY plan was to do a 3-6 month in and out. But they convinced me that I needed to keep going up and I wasn’t ready to come off. I peeked at 165mg. A year and half ago I started tapering down because I was tired of what it was doing to my life and my body. I took my last dose 1 week ago… I have felt HORRIBLE. I’ve been out of work, had no sleep, hot/cold, everything I eat goes thru me, anxiety, skin crawls….that stuff is the devil. I wish I could have video taped this week and sent it to every methedone patient or every person wanting to get on it. Wish I had NEVER done this to myself.

Sylvia
5:31 pm November 28th, 2016

I’ve been trying to get my boyfriend off of Methadone for years…He psycho babbles..gets violent when my dog barks he pokes my dogs with sticks while they are in cages we get into huge fights behind this.. I love my dogs…he said he’s not addicted but I know better…He knods all over..drops his food & breaks everything because he falls asleep standing up…He smokes like a chimney & was diagnosed with Emphysema in NY…He keeps me awake..He lost his drivers license & keeps losing jobs…He keeps taking my stuff & pawning & selling it..He doesn’t let me sleep..I’m so stressed at my wuts end..He has no medical coverage..He’s gone to VA 3 times & he must fall asleep cause he just tells me lies… My boyfriend is 57 yrs old..Used to be so clean but since he’s been on Methadone..He doesn’t even shower..sits on toilets nodding all day..stands in front of open fridge or stands in front of sink nodding with water running..I live in a Retired 55 + Comm..& my neighbors have to rescue him from falling in the street..just resently his friend which I thought had stopped Methadone overdose taking other pills…like he does…I went & gave Hell to his counselor…because they wouldn’t lower him when he so called asked…so they are lowering him but he still nods all over..So tired of this… PLEASE HELP ME..HE HAS NO MEDICAL COVERAGE & THE METHADONE DOESN’T HELP HIM THINK TO GO GET HELP

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:40 pm December 23rd, 2016

Hi Sylvia. You may look into the CRAFT model for families and interventions. One NGO called Allies in Recovery has some online reading that can help: http://alliesinrecovery.net/about-craft/
Also, call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

kevin
4:02 am December 24th, 2016

This is for SYLVIA; Hello. I am telling you this for 2 reasons:
1) At the rate things are going, your relationship with your present boyfriend is doomed anyway because it’s obvious to me that he’s either lying by omission of certain facts or else
2) He is lying outright about what he is REALLY doing.
If he has been on Methadone for years, there is no way he should be exhibiting the symptoms and actions he is displaying. I can assure you that he is supplementing his clinical dosage with either additional Methadone beyond his stated dose or else supplementing his Methadone dosage with Benzodiazepines (possibly Xanax) which can be fatal. All I can actually say for sure is that there is a LOT of additional drug usage going on that he won’t admit to.

kevin
4:12 am December 24th, 2016

This is for REGINA: do NOT convince yourself that you have NO choice, because you do. The first thing would be to file a grievance against the Methadone program that is forcing you to take such drastic reductions in your dosage, based on financial difficulty. I have already told you: “THIS IS COMPLETELY UNETHICAL”. It also violates the conditions stated in the Patient’s Bill of Rights. If what you are saying is completely accurate and true, then there are some MAJOR unethical things being committed by your program and you should seek a second opinion as well as getting into a different Methadone program.

Em, Professional Nurse (MSN)
5:48 am April 2nd, 2017

Better meds than methadone are available! Subutex (Buprenorphine) is by far the best. Naloxone may be added if necessary (Suboxone) if true addiction vs physical dependence is the issue. It is far easier to stop taking than methadone, so DO NOT SETTLE FOR A METHADONE ONLY PROGRAM! Be honest with your care provider and seek help soon. It may not be available to all income groups in the future. Love and luck!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:29 am April 3rd, 2017

Hi Em. Thank you for sharing your opinion with us.

Dawn
2:54 am April 7th, 2017

I’ve used methadone anywhere from 2-10 a day. I stopped taking them today cause it’s been too long. How long until they are out of my system?

Tommy
12:24 am April 15th, 2017

Im a caregiver of a pt with a brain tumour she has been on 10mg tabs 6x daily and hydromorphine 2mg 3x daily…and her dr will not up her dose but she has functioning ability on that dose but befor she got seen by a dr she was going to a clinic dosin and that place had her on double the dosage…its all over money once ur on methadone ur hooked line an sinker i witnessed her try to be took down on a taper and after 3 attempts the dr basically sd sum people will need it the rest of their lives and mame u are one….but that was in nc we live in wa now so…medicaid dont have any clinics takin pts in wa…she ended up findin a. Primary dr to write her rx till she can see a pain dr bc they rx a pain pump but till then shes on her normal dose….of pills…its sad the dr put her on this now she cant survive with out it…i think if more primary drs would take pain pts..they would easily be able to monitor and rx meds to a limit bc these methadone clinics will raise u long as u pay…they get u on a strong dose and u say lose ur money they cut u off…my client was so desp. She wanted to try herion bc ddts are that bad people its like the flue x3 …im sorry she ever got on it and cant get off it bc it does control ur life ….and god for bid theres a issue at the rx pharmacy i seen this one recently…so dr rx 180 pills but insurance would only fill 120 so they did the rx for 120 and 3 days later when dr talked to insurance and pharmisist they reran the rx for the 180 but they subtracted the 120 i got the previous day from the 180 and gave her the diference but when she goes for her pain dr apt which was a different dr bc of insurance reasons she had to switch clinics so the new dr refused to even take her as a pt bc the wa rx monitor system showed the 120 then 3days later 180 they never stated it was a difference from rx180 minus the 120 i had. Had it approved thru insurance on orginal rx date no it looked like she had gotten 120 and 180 so no pain dr would even touch her…luckily she found a awesum dr who called the pharmacy to verfy….but these methadone clinic if u got 10 bucks u get ur methadone….and when she was desperate she tht about the health dept methadone clinic in pierce …county she was refused sd with out documented herion use they refused to see her either so they are forcing desperately poor on medicaid to go to hard core herion so theycan get there methadone but a pain pt who needs it and who has Medicaid cant be seen but sumone unless they are usin herions. If yall and wa state wonders why they have so many overdoses each year…primary pain drs should be rx pain meds so that they know what the pts taking drug test…each visit heck if the drs are scaredwhy not rx daily like a clinic….im sayin it seems like these drs and clinics get people hooked and then just drop them that should be illegal….i feel u guys pain on dt’s suck and livin for ur next pill sucks….its always a hassel bc afterthey messed up my clients fill date bc redoin insurance crap bc insurance it put her rx insurance fill date off 3 days bch they redid it bc insurance they made her basically go 3 days with no meds bc of it…then when she found the gooddr who took her own and rx her medz bc her old primary dr had filledher rx but cut it in half bc he dont wanna get in trouble which affectedher ability to get the rx from the new dr filled bc they increased her dose and bc the rx doc was new the pharmacy refused to fill it till they spoke to a dr now this was on a friday so if dr did call befor the daywas out she could have had to wait till monday but luckily like i sd befor she found a awesum dr who even schedules her medical rides for her and helped her when no dr would…if ur interested lookin a new dr try concerta 253-617-2200 they are wonderful and take meficaid. .and Medicare. ..i wush i was a politican bc these pain rx laws need to be revised….bc if a pt is in as much pain asmy client then give the pt a pain pump they cant get more then whats set and it can be monitored risk of abuse would be less bc dosage is set plus it takes less thru a pain pump pain meds wise. ..but yet they havent did that..there pillin up pts then droppin those pts over insurance or ability to pay when the pt has Medicaid but droppin them fron care with no tapper go from a high dose of pain meds for 6 yrs and stop cold turkey in 5 days u will consider using herion…even the sweetest lady wowould consider usin herion about it. ..so then there u arewith no dr withdrawling and tryin to find a dr ajekewho over the pain meds and u either get left in the dark or consider usin herion so the state will pay for the meds she was so nicely getting rx by her drb who ended up leaving her high and dry and dependant on this drug…but befor meficaid will help u u have to use herion for a year baffeles my mind so im comin to u with same insurance needin the same meds but bc i havent used herion i cant be seen do u see how a addicted methadone pt would naturally go out lookin herion out of pure desperation..law makers look at the big picture u go after drs for rx to much and yet theseso called methadone clinics can up up up ur dose long as u got 10$ ….if u guys would sit down stop treatin pain pts like there tare the problem….sit down actuslly listen call around to the Medicaid methadone clinics see what they say they need befor u can dose get the numbers on how freely those clinics run outpts daily dosing increasing the dose till ur hooked yet drs a limited on how much they can rx to a pts. .sumones greedy or just not giveb 2 fucks about Medicaid pts…bc i dont see why a dr is limited on the amount they can rx but clinics arent…doin the same they thry can up up ur dose higher and higher..not safe.. Why cant drs take on pt s thru meficaid and daily dose them as welll so u dont have so many overdoses or pain patients left hanging bc their clinic seatle pain center was raided and shutdown. Yet these drs in clinics will up the dose long as u got money anbut if u fell hard bc u couldnt find a dr i get why a person would resorte to herion…90 % of overdoses are done from people withdrawing trying to get clean but they end up relapsing and thats when they od..or they underestimated herions potency bc they never used it but are in such withdraw they would eat shit to just stop the dt feelings restless legs creepy skin chilks sweating and cold mad sneezing diahreah vomiting basically death warmed over.or they. Up their normal amount bc they feel so crummy and thats when they od…da and drs and politicains are so messing stuff up so much its imposdible for the states poorest pts to get the care they desperately need. Somethin needs to be done….

Dennis
3:38 am April 28th, 2017

I have a good friend who has been taking a maintenance dose of 125 mg in a liquid oral dose for 12 years would this be considered dangerous? And at what rate should he lower his dose each week to keep from feeling withdrawl symptoms? Thankyou.

Loti
3:50 am May 2nd, 2017

have a hard time understanding why the methadone clinic gives my boyfriend 320 mg dose a day and he has been in treatment for 5 years with no plan to come off of the treatment. how is this legal? are they purposely trying to kill him off? I understand the clinic feels like this treatment is better than being on heroine, how is I better for the client when the side affects are so severe?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:54 pm May 8th, 2017

Hi Dennis. Suggest your friend to speak with his/her doctor about these issues.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:32 pm May 10th, 2017

Hi Loti. Methadone is also used for treating heroin addiction. I suggest that you speak with your boyfriend’s doctors about your concerns.

Jeff
11:56 pm May 23rd, 2017

I have pseudo tumor cerebri and have been on Methadone pain management for 17 years.I feel it has destroyed me mentally and physically.Is there any way I can get myself off it without terrible withdrawals​.I am at my wit’s end.Has destroyed my brain, am very depressed and see no way out.Am onS.S.I. and have Medicaid and Medicare insurance.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:53 pm June 5th, 2017

Hi Jeff. First, I suggest that you speak with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Then, download our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioid Painkillers’ to learn everything you need for the opioid quiting process here: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/how-to-quit-opioid-painkillers/
Finally, you may call the helpline you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

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