Generic Name: methadone (METH-a-done)
Brand Name: Examples include Dolophine and Methadose
Methadone is a narcotic medicine that may become habit-forming. Misuse or abuse can lead to overdose and death. Do NOT take more than the recommended dose, take for longer than prescribed, or take more often than prescribed without checking with your doctor.
Methadone may cause severe and sometimes fatal breathing problems. This effect may occur at any time after you take a dose. The risk may be greater when you first start this drug or with any increase in dose. Contact your doctor right away if you experience slow, shallow, or difficult breathing.
Accidental swallowing of even one dose of methadone may be fatal, especially in children. Keep methadone out of the reach of children. Seek emergency medical care right away if another person swallows methadone.
Certain types of severe and sometimes fatal irregular heartbeat (QT prolongation, torsades de pointes) have occurred in patients taking methadone. Tell your doctor right away if you develop an irregular heartbeat.
Long-term use of methadone during pregnancy may cause dependence in the unborn baby. This can lead to withdrawal in the newborn, which can be life-threatening. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
If methadone is used to treat narcotic (opioid) addiction, it can only be dispensed through a special program. Contact your doctor for instructions.
Methadone is used for:
Managing severe pain. When used to treat pain, it is only for use when continuous (around-the-clock) treatment is needed for a long time. It is also only used when other pain treatments do not treat your pain well enough or you cannot take them. It is not for use right after surgery, if you need only occasional or as-needed pain relief, or if the pain is mild or is not expected to last for a long time. Methadone is also used in treating narcotic (opioid) addiction as part of a treatment program. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Methadone is a narcotic (opioid) medicine. It works by acting in the brain and nervous system.
Do NOT use methadone if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in methadone
- you have slow, shallow, or difficult breathing
- you have severe lung problems (eg, severe asthma), or you are having an asthma attack
- you have narrowing of the stomach or bowels, or known or suspected stomach or bowel blockage (eg, paralytic ileus)
- you are taking asenapine, buprenorphine, a mixed agonist/antagonist pain medicine (eg, butorphanol, nalbuphine, pentazocine), nilotinib, tetrabenazine, or sodium oxybate (GHB)
- you are taking a monamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (eg, phenelzine, selegiline), or you have taken one within the last 14 days
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using methadone:
Some medical conditions may interact with methadone. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:
- if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
- if you have allergies to medicines, especially any narcotic pain medicines (eg, codeine, hydromorphone); foods; or other substances
- if you have a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other lung or breathing problems (eg, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema), sleep apnea, curvature of the spine (scoliosis), high levels of the carbon dioxide in the blood (hypercapnia or hypercarbia), or low levels of oxygen in the blood (hypoxia)
- if you have severe drowsiness, increased pressure in the brain, a recent head injury, or growths in the brain (eg, tumors, lesions), or a history of seizures (eg, epilepsy)
- if you have a history of liver or kidney problems, thyroid problems, stomach or bowel problems (eg, blockage, inflammation), gallbladder problems, pancreas problems (eg, pancreatitis), heart problems (eg, cor pulmonale; enlarged heart; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat), or urinary blockage or trouble urinating, or an enlarged prostate
- if you have low blood pressure, dehydration, low blood volume, constipation, stomach pain, low blood potassium or magnesium levels, or poor health
- if you drink alcohol, have symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, or have a history of suicidal thoughts or attempts
- if you or a family member have a history of mental or mood problems (eg, anxiety, depression), or alcohol or other substance abuse or dependence
- if you are very overweight or have recently had or will be having surgery (eg, stomach or bowel surgery)
- if you are taking a benzodiazepine (eg, alprazolam). Deaths have happened when methadone was abused by people taking a benzodiazepine.
- if you have never taken a narcotic pain medicine before
- if you take any medicine that may increase the risk of a certain type of irregular heartbeat (prolonged QT interval). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines may increase the risk of this type of irregular heartbeat
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with methadone. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Many prescription and nonprescription medicines (eg, used for alcohol or other substance abuse or dependence, cancer, constipation, depression or other mental or mood problems, hepatitis C, high blood pressure, HIV, Huntington disease, infections, immune system suppression, irregular heartbeat or other heart problems, nausea or vomiting, pain, Parkinson disease, reflux or other stomach problems, seizures, sleeping problems, Tourette syndrome), multivitamin products, and herbal or dietary supplements (eg, herbal teas, coenzyme Q10, garlic, ginseng, ginkgo, St. John's wort) may interact with methadone. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines might interact with methadone
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if methadone may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.
How to use methadone:
Use methadone as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Methadone comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get methadone refilled.
- Take methadone by mouth with or without food. Methadone is for oral use only and must not be injected or snorted.
- Methadone must be administered under close medical supervision.
- Do not suddenly stop taking methadone. You may have an increased risk of withdrawal symptoms (eg, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, shivering). If you need to stop methadone, your doctor will gradually lower your dose.
- Methadone works best if it is taken at the same time(s) each day. Do not miss any doses.
- If you miss a dose of methadone and:
- You are taking it for pain, take it as soon as possible then take your next dose as directed by your doctor. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once. Do not take more than your prescribed dose in 24 hours.
- You are taking it for narcotic (opioid) addiction, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once. Do not take more than your prescribed dose in 24 hours.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use methadone.
Important safety information:
- Tell your doctor or dentist that you take methadone before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
- Methadone may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or light-headedness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use methadone with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
- Do not drink alcohol or take medicines (prescription or nonprescription) that have alcohol in them while you are taking methadone. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about whether any of your medicines have alcohol in them.
- Check with your doctor before you use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are taking methadone; the risk of severe drowsiness or breathing problems may be increased. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may increase the risk of these effects.
- Methadone may cause dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting; alcohol, hot weather, exercise, or fever may increase these effects. To prevent them, sit up or stand slowly, especially in the morning. Sit or lie down at the first sign of any of these effects.
- Methadone may cause constipation. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about using a stool softener or laxative to prevent constipation. It is also important to maintain a diet adequate in fiber, drink plenty of water, and exercise to prevent constipation. If you become constipated while taking methadone, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Do NOT take more than the recommended dose, take methadone for longer than prescribed, or take more often than prescribed without talking with your doctor.
- If you have side effects that concern you, contact your doctor. If you are taking methadone for pain, contact your doctor if your pain continues or becomes worse.
- Seek emergency medical care right away if another person swallows methadone. Accidental swallowing of methadone may be fatal, especially in children.
- Use methadone with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially breathing problems.
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using methadone while you are pregnant. Long-term use of methadone during pregnancy may cause dependence in the fetus or newborn. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor. Methadone is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use methadone, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.
When used for long periods of time or at high doses, methadone may not work as well and may require higher doses to obtain the same effect as when originally taken. This is known as TOLERANCE. Talk with your doctor if methadone stops working well. Do not take more than prescribed.
Some people who use methadone for a long time may develop a need to continue taking it. People who take high doses are also at risk. This is known as DEPENDENCE or addiction.
If you suddenly stop taking methadone, you may experience WITHDRAWAL symptoms including anxiety; diarrhea; fever, runny nose, or sneezing; goose bumps and abnormal skin sensations; nausea; vomiting; pain; rigid muscles; rapid heartbeat; seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there; shivering or tremors; sweating; and trouble sleeping.
Possible side effects of methadone:
All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Constipation; dizziness; drowsiness; headache; light-headedness; nausea; sweating; tiredness; vomiting.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue); abnormal sighing; chest pain; confusion; decreased sexual desire or ability; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; menstrual changes; mental or mood changes (eg, agitation, depression); muscle pain, weakness, or cramping; seizures; severe or persistent constipation or stomach pain; severe or persistent dizziness, drowsiness, headache, or light-headedness; shortness of breath; slow, difficult, or shallow breathing; sudden, unexplained weight gain; swelling of the arms, feet, or legs; trouble sleeping; trouble urinating; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision changes.
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.Proper storage of methadone:
Sometimes, methadone is stored in a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office. If you are storing methadone at home, store it at room temperature, 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C) in a tightly closed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep methadone out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about methadone, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Methadone is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
- If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
- Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take methadone or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about methadone. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to methadone. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using methadone.
Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.
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- Drug class: narcotic analgesics
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