Your physical health is important. Your emotional health is just as vital to your wellbeing. And methadone can affect your emotional health in many ways.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a synthetic opioid. This means it has similar effects to drugs like heroin and morphine. This may seem counterintuitive, since methadone is most often prescribed to treat addiction. However the reason methadone works for this medication-assisted therapy is because it does mimic many of the effects of opiate drugs just with less addiction risk, no high and fewer withdrawal symptoms.
What Are the Risks of Methadone Use?
Methadone use has fewer side effects than powerfully addictive drugs like heroin and fentanyl, but that doesn’t mean it has no side effects. Like Suboxone and other maintenance medications, it’s still an opioid and it’s still addictive. Use comes with potential risks to both your physical and mental health. So just how can methadone affect your emotional health? The following are just a few examples:
- Increased anxiety. If you rely on benzodiazepine medications to help you manage panic or anxiety symptoms, you cannot take these drugs while using any opioid medications. Methadone and benzodiazepines create a high risk for potentially fatal interactions or overdoses.
Withdrawal. You may not experience extreme physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop using this drug, but you may notice you feel anxious, depressed or simply moody if you miss a dose or try to stop using the drug abruptly.
- Psychological dependence. Even if you do not become physically addicted to a drug, you can be psychologically dependent. You may come to believe that you need methadone to feel good or just normal. You may come to see it as an essential part of your recovery rather than a supplemental tool.
- Mood swings. Methadone works by changing your brain chemistry. The changes it creates aren’t just specific to treating addiction, and you may notice mood swings, anxiety, depression and other emotional effects.
- Reduced emotions. While methadone can elevate or amplify moods, it can also dampen them. Addiction shares, “methadone blunts both elative and depressive emotional reactivity.”1 This can help you balance depression and other co-occurring mental health issues, but it can also create temptation to quit using methadone before brain and body have time to adjust.
Is Methadone Right for Me?
Methadone can be a useful tool, but it is only a tool. It isn’t stand-alone treatment or a “cure.” As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states, “As with all medications used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), methadone is to be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and participation in social support programs.”
You and your treatment team may decide to use methadone as part of your overall addiction recovery plan. You should never decide to use it on your own or as stand-alone treatment for addiction. When used correctly, side effects are minimal and manageable.
Talk about your options with your treatment team, and understand the potential risks and benefits of adding methadone. Call Michael’s House at 760.548.4032 to learn more about methadone and all your options for both drug-free and medication-assisted treatment. We can help you find the right recovery program for you.
1 Savvas, Steven. “The Effect of Methadone on Emotional Reactivity.” Addiction. 28 Aug. 2011.
2 “Methadone.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 28 Sep. 2015.