Methadone is an opioid (narcotic) analgesic (painkiller) that many people use to treat heroin or opiate addiction.1 It has a very long half-life, which means that it stays in an individual’s system for a long time, so other medications can affect its efficacy.
How Methadone Causes Adverse Interactions
Complications arise when medications have to compete for sites in similar regions of the body to be metabolized. In other words, any drug that affects the same part of the body as methadone may exacerbate or weaken its effects.
Many adverse reactions to drugs occur because of interactions with other substances. Other drugs can affect the amount or action of a drug in the body, usually by increasing or decreasing the amount of drugs the body can metabolize. Avoiding these interactions can be difficult, especially for individuals receiving methadone treatment who also have co-occurring disorders, such as depression. Because so many issues are treated with medication, people may take several drugs at once to handle their problems.
Methadone and Other Prescription Drugs
Generally speaking, methadone is a well-tolerated medication that has minimal adverse reactions when taken as prescribed. However, the following drugs can harm methadone users in various ways:
- Benzodiazepines can enhance the sedative effect of methadone.
- Buprenorphine can have an antagonist effect or enhance sedative and respiratory depression, which can trigger withdrawal symptoms.
- Other tricyclic antidepressants can enhance sedative effect which is does when users become dependent.
- Fluoxetine can raise methadone levels.
- Fluoxamine can raise plasma methadone levels.
- Other SSRIs can raise plasma methadone levels.
- MAOIs can cause CNS excitation, delirium, convulsions and respiratory depression.
- Buprenorphine can trigger difficult withdrawal symptoms, thereby increasing risk of central nervous system (CNS) and psychomotor depression.
- Tricyclic anti-depressants can increase sedation.2
How to Safely Take Methadone with Other Medicine
To protect your health while receiving methadone addiction treatment, it is important to follow standard protocols, like the following examples:
- Participate in behavioral components of treatment, such as support groups and individual counseling
- Follow methadone prescriptions intently
- Inform your doctors of any medication and supplement you currently take
- Follow a medically supervised tapering schedule
Methadone addiction is a serious condition that requires medical help to quit. With treatment, it is possible to regain your health. Comprehensive rehab centers also provide counseling to help addicted individuals understand the causes of their addictive behavior.
Help for Methadone Addiction
If you or a loved one suffers from methadone addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness. Please call 855-894-3703 now for help.
By Becca Owens, Contributing Writer
1 "Methadone." Medline Plus, March 15, 2018.
2 "Methadone." Drugs.com, February 28, 2018.