Has your doctor ever prescribed methadone? And have you ever wondered what it is? Many people hear the term “narcotic” and think it’s illegal. So is methadone a narcotic? And are all narcotics illegal?
It’s important to answer all these questions in order to better understand prescription drugs. Knowledge is still the key to avoiding addiction and substance abuse. Let’s take a closer look at methadone and its effects.
Is Methadone a Narcotic?
Methadone is a drug that is in the category of substances known as opioids. This means that methadone is indeed a narcotic. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Narcotics are prescription painkillers that are used to treat moderate to severe pain.
The only reason there’s a stigma around the word “narcotic” is that it has a different meaning in law enforcement. In that field, narcotics refer to all illicit substances—and methadone isn’t illegal if prescribed by a licensed physician.
Abusing methadone is illegal, even if it is prescribed by a doctor. The same can be said for all other opioids and opiates that are currently being used on patients.
Methadone, like most opioids, has a high potential for abuse. But compared to morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, methadone is slightly less potent. It is habit-forming for sure, but not like the other narcotics. In fact, this drug is even used as part of addiction treatment for heroin abusers.
Now just because it is safer than other narcotics doesn’t mean it is completely harmless. Make sure you follow your doctor’s prescription closely. Do not take larger doses even if you skipped a dosage prior to that one. Do not take this prescription narcotic for longer than you are supposed to.
How Does it Work?
Methadone relieves pain by changing the way your brain and nervous system response to pain. This replaces pain with relief. It increases your pain threshold so that your discomfort is reduced or eliminated completely.
Take note that its effects are slower than those of other painkillers such as morphine. It can even serve to block the high that you get from similar drugs. Methadone also helps prevent withdrawal symptoms. This method is called replacement therapy.
But because it is less potent, recreational users are prone to taking large doses of this drug, thinking it is safer. It still produces a euphoric high, which is why it is still being abused.
Aside from addiction treatment, your doctor may prescribe this for injury management, chronic pain, or surgery.
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Potential Side Effects
Methadone misuse and abuse can still lead to various adverse effects. It may cause nausea, vomiting, slow breathing, itchiness, heavy sweating, constipation, and sexual problems. And these are just results of short term abuse.
Some serious side effects may also occur, including lightheadedness, hives, rashes, respiratory depression, chest pain, swelling of the face, hallucinations, and lung complications.
If you encounter any of these adverse effects, contact your doctor immediately.
Misusing a drug is one thing, and abusing it is another. If you get addicted to methadone, you may develop physical dependence. At this point, it becomes dangerous to quit without seeking proper treatment. But it is possible for drug abusers, including methadone abusers, to get better with a combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy.
Look for a rehab near you today and fight the effects of drug addiction!