Methadone, traditionally used in the treatment of heroin addiction, recently has been used to treat severe pain. The chemical stability of methadone has been studied in concentrations up to 1.5 mg/mL only. Commercial methadone concentrate (10mg/mL) and methadone powder was diluted to 5 mg/mL with orange-flavored Tang drink. Sodium benzoate was added to the solutions prepared from powder. Bottles were stored at either room temperature (22 deg C) or under refrigeration (6 deg C) for 91 days. Samples were analyzed in duplicate by a stability-indicating high-performance liquid chromatographic assay, and clarity and pH were also monitored. One additional solution was preprared from powder but no preservative was added; this solution was monitored for presence of bacterial growth at room temperature only. Solutions prepared from the concentrate and powder with preservative showed no signs of change in clarity on storage. The solution made from powder only developed turbidity after 21 days, which suggested bacterial growth. There was no significant change in pH over the course of the study. After 91 days of storage at either room temperature or under refrigeration, there was no change in concentration for solutions prepared from concentrate or powder with preservative. Methadone solutions prepared from the commercial concentrate or powder with sodium benzoate are stable for 91 days at room temperature or under refrigeration. Solutions prepared from the powder but not containing a preservative showed signs of bacterial growth after 21 days at room temperature.
Methadone is part of a category called opioids. It was created by German doctors during World War II. When it arrived in the United States, it was used to treat people with extreme pain. Today, your doctor may use it as part of your treatment for an addiction to heroinor narcotic painkillers.
It works a lot like morphine does. You can take it as a tablet, a powder, or a liquid. It must be prescribed by a doctor. People who take it illegally often inject it, which exposes them to diseases like HIV.
Even though it’s safer than some other narcotics, your doctor should keep a close watch on you while you take methadone. Taking it can lead to addiction or abuse.
What Does It Do?
Methadone changes the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain so that you feel relief. Its effects are slower than those of other strong painkillers like morphine. It blocks the high you get from drugs like codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone.
Your doctor may prescribe methadone if you’re in a lot of pain from an injury, surgery, or chronic illness.
It can also help if you’re in treatment for addiction to other opioids. It can give a similar feeling and prevent withdrawal symptoms. You may hear this called replacement therapy. Methadone replaces the opioids in your system with milder effects.
It’s usually used as one part of your treatment plan. It isn’t a cure for addiction.
Uses and Side Effects
While there’s no set amount of time you’ll take methadone to treat an addiction, experts say it should be at least a year, and maybe more than that. The doctor will carefully track your body’s response to it and adjust your treatment. When it’s time to stop taking it, he’ll help you stop slowly to prevent withdrawal.
With short-term use, you may notice:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slow breathing
- Itchy skin
- Heavy sweating
- Sexual problems
Some side effects are more serious. Call the doctor if you:
- Have trouble breathing or can only take shallow breaths
- Feel lightheaded or faint
- Get hives or a rash
- Have swollen lips, tongue, throat, or face
- Have chest pain or a rapid heartbeat
- Have hallucinations or feel confused
If you use the drug for a long time, it might lead to lung and breathing problems. It can also change a woman’s menstrual cycle. If you get pregnant, talk to your doctor about changing your dose. It can cause complications.
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