What is methadone?

Methadone is a narcotic pain reliever, similar to morphine. Methadone also reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs without causing the ”high” associated with the drug addiction.

Methadone is used as a pain reliever and as part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance programs.

Methadone may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

Precautions

Taking methadone improperly will increase your risk of serious side effects or death. Even if you have used other narcotic medications, you may still have serious side effects from methadone. Follow all dosing instructions carefully.

Methadone may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Methadone should never be given to another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

Do not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a narcotic medicine (examples include codeine, morphine, Oxycontin, Darvocet, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, and many others). You should also not take methadone if you are having an asthma attack or if you have a bowel obstruction called paralytic ileus.

Before taking methadone, talk to your doctor if you have:

  • a personal or family history of "Long QT syndrome";
  • asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders;
  • liver or kidney disease;
  • underactive thyroid;
  • curvature of the spine;
  • a history of head injury or brain tumor;
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
  • low blood pressure;
  • gallbladder disease;
  • Addison's disease or other adrenal gland disorders;
  • enlarged prostate, urination problems;
  • mental illness; or
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. It could also cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother takes methadone during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Methadone can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Older adults and people with debilitating conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of this medication.

Do not drink alcohol while you are taking methadone. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with methadone. Check your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol.

Methadone can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

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Instructions

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.An overdose of methadone can be fatal, especially if you take it with alcohol or other narcotic medications.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, pinpoint pupils, confusion, cold and clammy skin, weak pulse, shallow breathing, fainting, or breathing that stops.

Use the medication as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and wait until your next regularly scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

If you miss your doses for longer than 3 days in a row, call your doctor for instructions. You may need to restart methadone at a lower dose.

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Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • shallow breathing;
  • hallucinations or confusion;
  • chest pain, dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeat; or
  • trouble breathing, feeling light-headed, or fainting.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • feeling anxious, nervous, or restless;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • feeling weak or drowsy;
  • dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite; or
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Interactions

Do not use methadone with other narcotic pain medications, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxers, or other medicines that can make you sleepy or slow your breathing. Dangerous side effects may result.

Do not use methadone with any of the following drugs without first talking to your doctor:

  • a diuretic (water pill);
  • antibiotics such as azithromycin (Zithromax), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E-Mycin, Ery-Tab), itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), metronidazole (Flagyl) or voriconazole (Vfend);
  • heart or blood pressure medication such as diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac) or verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan);
  • HIV medicines such as abacavir (Ziagen), amprenavir (Agenerase), didanosine (Videx), efavirenz (Sustiva), lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), nelfinavir (Viracept), nevirapine (Viramune), ritonavir (Norvir), stavudine (Zerit), or zidovudine (Retrovir);
  • an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), or selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam);
  • other narcotic medications such as pentazocine (Talwin), nalbuphine (Nubain), buprenorphine (Subutex), or butorphanol (Stadol);
  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifater); or
  • seizure medication such as phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton) or phenytoin (Dilantin).

This list is not complete and there are many other medicines that may cause serious medical problems if you take them together with methadone. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list with you of all the medicines you use and show this list to any doctor or other healthcare provider who treats you.

Other Names

Diskets, Dolophine, Methadose, and methadone

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Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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