Methadone is a synthetic opioid used for the treatment of heroin addiction.

Though methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) for opioid addiction has been an effective line of treatment for a long time now, there are several harmful effects associated with its long-term use. According to various studies, methadone affects the brain and impairs attention. Now, a recent study has revealed that patients receiving long-term MMT develop opioid tolerance, which makes them dependent on it.

The study, published in the Harm Reduction Journal in February 2016, said that the problem with opioid agonists, is that their long-term use can lead to the development of tolerance in patients.

Methadone stats woeful

Surveys have revealed that methadone clinics are contributing to the alarming rise in deaths related to the drug. It has grown by 300 percent since 2000, greater than the increase in number of its prescriptions. In 2015 alone, more than 5,000 people succumbed to methadone overdoses, four times more than the deaths caused by oxycodone and more than twice the number from morphine.

What is ominous is that methadone addiction is worse than that of narcotics, which it intends to treat. Once people grow dependent on it due to long-term medication, they need more methadone and end up with grave withdrawal symptoms. It is like trading one narcotic with another. The treatment thus takes a backseat.

It has been observed that methadone is more addictive than heroin, and people on methadone treatment have a proclivity to indulge in criminal activity, as 52 percent of methadone clients in Australia were reported to be involved in drug-related and property crimes. Also, one in every four women on methadone treatment is found to be involved in prostitution, as per reports. Addicts under methadone treatment may genuinely try to overcome the addiction, but the nature of the dependence on methadone is such that it further pushes them towards it.

Another research conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) in 2011 said that methadone had similar effects like opioids, heroine, and morphine that weaken intellectual functions, such as learning, memory and attention.

“The fact that the attention is impaired even after the drug was no longer present in the body suggests that methadone causes changes in brain cells. We do not yet know exactly what the changes are and how long-lasting they will be,” said researcher Jannike M. Andersen of the NIPH’s Division of Forensic Toxicology and Drug Abuse.

“It is, therefore, tempting to assume that methadone has similar effects,” said Andersen, who conducted the research on animals.

The researchers, however, did not conduct the experiment on humans and called for further research to ascertain whether similar effects of methadone can be seen in humans.

“We must now follow up the results from the animal studies to see if attention problems persist and to learn more about the biological mechanisms involved. Only then can we say anything more about the translation value of our findings for humans,” Anderson added.

Addiction treatment

Addiction is a black spot on the society, individual and the family involved. But whether it is methadone addiction treatment or any other remedial program, every addiction is treatable with a little effort, commitment, and right prognosis.

If a loved one is an addict and you are looking for a de-addiction program, call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-683-9756 for immediate assistance. The Sovereign Addiction Services is a leading addiction treatment organization with centers spread across various states. So, whether you are looking for methadone addiction treatment in Los Angeles or somewhere in the vicinity, we are there to help you.

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