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General overview

Methadone is an opioid pain medication which means it relieves pain by acting on the central nervous system. The two main indications for the use of methadone is treatment of chronic and severe pain and it is also used for managing addiction to other opioids such as heroin and other morphine-like drugs.

Methadone is the generic name for the medication, but there are other trade names for it which have been given by companies which produce the drug. Therefore, there are also different formulations of the medication such as liquids, solutions and tablets

Methadose is a trade name of methadone, which is made by the company Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in the USA and there are a couple of formulations of this product. This includes a 40mg dispersible tablet which can be scored into halves and quarters, depending on the required dosage, which is then dissolved in water and also an oral concentrate solution which contains 10mg of methadone per 1ml of the solution. 

Before using this medication

The benefits of using this medication should always be weighed against the risks of its use. The reason for this is, obviously, because you don't want to cause the patient harm, but methadone is an opioid so it does have habit-forming properties. Therefore, people can get addicted to it and develop withdrawal symptoms if it's stopped suddenly.

Patients should let the prescribing doctor know if they are using any medications which could interact with methadone. Also, they should disclose if they are suffering from any medical conditions which may affect the use of methadone and thus either make the medication ineffective or worsen the patient's health. The conditions may include the following.

  • Alcoholism.
  • Kidney and/or liver disease.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Gallbladder disease.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or any other chronic lung related issues.
  • Acute or severe asthma.
  • Major depression.
  • Any previous history of head injuries.
  • Increased intracranial pressure.
  • Previous convulsions or diagnosed with epilepsy.
  • Cardiac hypertrophy.
  • Heart rhythm issues such as a prolonged QT interval on EKG.
  • Hypokalemia.
  • Hypomagnesemia.
  • Intestinal obstructive issues such as paralytic ileus.

Precautions when using this medication

Methadone can only be prescribed by a doctor who will be initiating the therapy. If the medication is to be used for helping with opioid addiction, then a pharmacist will also be involved who will physically dispense the medication to the patient. This is called direct observed treatment (DOT) and it helps to improve compliance and decrease abuse of the medication.

Patients should not be using alcohol or any other central nervous system depressant medications while using methadone. These medications include antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants and sleeping aids.

This medications can cause constipation so patients need to make sure they drink enough water every day. They can also use stool softeners, which don't affect the intestines, to help with bowel movements.

Patients need to be aware of signs and symptoms of overdose. They are as follows:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Severe dizziness
  • Extreme weakness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Convulsions
These patients need to be seek emergency medical attention immediately.

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