5 Warning Signs Someone Is Addicted to Methadone


warning signsSome drugs, when taken for recreational purposes or in higher doses than recommended, will have distinct traits that can tip off friends and family about possible abuse. Cocaine and methamphetamines, for instance, often raise body temperature to a degree that is significant enough to increase how much a person sweats, as well as cause hyper behaviors like talking a lot or too fast. Heroin often causes an individual to nod in and out of consciousness, known as being “on the nod.”  Alcohol, in excessive amounts, causes a drunken stupor and can result in vomiting and loss of consciousness when alcohol poisoning occurs.

Methadone is a synthetic opioid drug that blocks the opiate receptors in the brain. Originally used for the treatment of heroin addiction, it has been prescribed for quite some time as a treatment for chronic pain as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, methadone can make a person lightheaded, dizzy or drowsy; however, when used correctly, it does not affect one’s ability to drive a vehicle. It may be difficult to tell if an individual is taking this a little too often, or even if they are suffering from addiction to methadone specifically.

That does not mean that there aren’t signs and symptoms of methadone addiction that can help you determine if you or a loved one may have developed this terrible disease. The warning signs of addiction are generally the same, regardless of the type of drugs being abused. The American Psychiatric Association publishes a manual that is used nationally to determine the elements of various psychiatric conditions, including substance abuse dependence – also known as addiction. This manual helps doctors, regardless of where they are located, diagnose conditions on a consistent basis.

Warning Signs of Addiction

Sign #1: Tolerance Is the First Sign

Tolerance occurs in the body when it “gets used to” having a certain substance. For instance, when an individual is given a prescription, the doctor may tell them that they will feel dizzy for a day or two until they adjust to the new chemical compounds contained in the medication. When the dizziness wears off, tolerance has been achieved. In the case of an individual who seeks that dizzy feeling, or the “high” provided by the medication, it is necessary to take more of the drug to achieve the feeling. Even if someone does not intend to become intoxicated, they may take more of the medication when the painkilling effects aren’t as profound.

Sign #2:  Withdrawal or ‘Dopesickness’

Because methadone is a synthetic opioid drug, the withdrawal symptoms are similar to heroin. Unlike heroin, methadone withdrawal can take several days to develop. Withdrawal symptoms may not be as severe, but they last considerably longer. Withdrawal symptoms will occur when an individual stops taking the drug whether they are entering a detox treatment as the first step in an overall recovery plan, or simply because they have run out of their drug of choice and been unable to obtain more. These symptoms include:

  • Sore muscles
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Fatigue

Sign #3:  Lack of Control

In some cases, addiction to methadone, like other drugs, can derail an individual’s best intentions. Someone may recognize, on a conscious level, that they have a problem with methadone, for instance. They may tell themselves, or you, that they will only take a little of the drug to stave off the withdrawal symptoms. They may insist that they will only use on the weekends or in social settings. They insist they are in control. When the time comes, however, they may use more of the drug than even they intended, seemingly unable to stop until there are no drugs left. This compulsion to use the drugs is a serious sign that addiction may be present.

Sign #4:  Using Drugs Becomes a Life Priority.

When someone suffering from addiction wakes in the morning, they may have only one thought on their mind. Where can they obtain their daily dose of methadone for the day?  They may spend an incredible amount of time arranging for the purchase of the drugs, until such time as they have an adequate supply in their possession. They will spend a great deal of time both using and recovering from the drug abuse as well. In the case of an individual who receives their methadone from a doctor, they may spend a great deal of time visiting multiple doctors for the same complaints, without informing each doctor that they have already obtained a prescription.

Sign #5: More Important Than Family

Some individuals who have become addicted to drugs like methadone will choose to use drugs rather than take part in activities that used to be important to them. They may elect to stay home and abuse drugs rather than attend a school play in which their child is performing. They may miss school meetings, birthday parties, and even holidays with friends and family. They may be frequently absent from work because they are too sick or too tired due to their drug use.

Not every person who is addicted to methadone will exhibit every symptom of substance abuse dependence. If someone you know shows any of the signs listed here concerning methadone use or abuse, please feel free to contact us here at Axis for information about how you can help them break free of this powerful disease.