Advertisement

How does methadone help treat opioid dependence and withdrawal symptoms?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Methadone (Diskets, Dolophine, Methadose) is the best-known and most frequently used medication for treating opioid dependence. Methadone binds to the same opioid brain receptors (a group of receptors in the central nervous system) to which heroin, morphine, and prescription (synthetic) opioids bind. Compared with opioids of abuse, methadone remains attached to the receptor and continues to exert its effects for much longer. A single dose of methadone can ease or prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms and alleviate cravings for 24 to 36 hours.

Doctors use methadone to ease withdrawal symptoms among patients who are detoxifying (clearing their system of drugs). Some people opt to continue methadone indefinitely as a way to help them remain abstinent, a practice known as methadone maintenance therapy.

Continue Learning about Opiate Agonists

What opioid medications can help treat severe headaches?
Egilius L. Spierings, MDEgilius L. Spierings, MD
If you suffer severe headaches frequently, if not daily, one strategy to consider is a long-acti...
More Answers
What medication should I avoid if I have a bowel obstruction?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
Do not take the painkiller Avinza (morphine) if you have paralytic ileus, a partial or complete bowe...
More Answers
What medications can cause breathing problems when taken with opioids?
Travis M. Hendry, MDTravis M. Hendry, MD
Medications that interact with opioids to decrease breathing include clonazepam (Klonopin), alpr...
More Answers
How will my doctor ensure I don’t become addicted to opioid medication?
UCLA HealthUCLA Health
There is no clear way to ensure that you won’t become addicted to opioids if you are taking them for...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.