The world of pharmaceuticals is a complicated one. Many drugs have many different therapeutical applications. Some applications are common while others are so obscure that most do not know about them. No matter what a medication is used for most of them come with adverse side effects. The reality is that most medicinal cures come with a cost. One such drug is Methadone.
The majority of people know that methadone is used to treat heroin addicts. This is only a small scope of the drug and its uses. It is also used to treat other opioid addicts. It does not exactly cure an opioid addict. Methadone is also an opioid. The difference between methadone and other opioids is the less severe withdraw symptoms. It is used as a replacement opioid for those with more severe withdraw symptoms. The theory is that it will be easier for someone to stop methadone versus heroin or another opioid.
The cost of this treatment is the possibility of addiction to methadone. With time, a person who takes methadone will build a tolerance to the drug. When this happens the dose is typically increased. If the patient is on methadone too long, the high tolerance and increased dosage can lead to increased dependence and addiction to methadone itself. Higher tolerances and larger doses also increase the risk of overdose. It is evident that this addiction treatment method comes with some serious consequences.
As with the majority of opioids, they are effective pain relievers and have long been used to treat those with chronic or severe pain. It was once quite popular to prescribe methadone for pain relief, as popular as it is for treating drug addiction.
Tragically, it has been discovered that prescribing for pain relief comes with more risk of complications. This is usually attributed to the fact that patients that are prescribed methadone for pain are not accustomed to taking such a strong opioid. The chances of overdose are greatly increased for patients taking methadone for the first time. The dangers are exasperated with high incidences of death due to extremely slow and shallow breathing. There have also been dramatic changes in the heartbeat recorded. What makes this fatally dangerous is that often the patient cannot detect the changes in their heartbeat.
While both of the common treatments that utilize methadone are effective, it comes with great risks and consequences. The adverse side effects of the drug have become so concerning that it caused the FDA to issue a Public Health Advisory, in 2006. It advised the public that methadone used for pain relief could cause death or life-threatening side effects. Since this advisory, many have wondered if the positive benefits of methadone outweigh the risks.