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Shooting Methadone – Dangers and Side Effects

The vast majority of methadone created and sold within the United States is made to pass through the digestive system. Manufacturers know that oral medications require a slightly longer period of time to take effect, and as a result, these drugs don’t tend to cause the burst of euphoria associated with drugs that travel directly into the bloodstream through the pinhole of a needle. Drugs that are made to pass through the stomach are quite different than drugs made to pass through the bloodstream, and if you inject methadone, some very serious complications could take place.

Fillers and Additives

The inside of your stomach is a churning, acidic place. Anything that hits this caustic environment is broken down almost immediately. In order to help methadone reach the stomach, rather than being broken down in the mouth or in the throat, manufacturers create a bubble around the active ingredient in these oral medications. Those additives can include:

  • Glycerin
  • Food coloring
  • Flavoring
  • Sorbitol

Some of these ingredients simply won’t break down inside the veins, and no matter how much you might try to filter out all of the particulates, some tiny bits might remain and they might work like little missiles, zooming to your heart or to your lungs and causing very serious damage. Injecting this material can also damage your veins, causing them to block up and bleed.

*Why Can’t I Stop?

If you came to methadone because you were addicted to an opiate like heroin, you might have an addiction to the process of shooting drugs, in addition to the addiction to the drugs themselves. For example, a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review found that 47 percent of people who shot methadone syrup did so because they had a needle fixation. The idea of heating up the drug, tying the vein and injecting the drug was a process they were addicted to, and had trouble overcoming without help.

Infections Are Common

Needles are tightly controlled by the state and federal government, and as a result, you might find it hard to obtain clean and sterile needles you can use for your drug injections. As a result, you might be tempted to share needles with other people, and you could develop blood-borne infections like HIV/AIDS by sharing with infected people.

According to a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, people who share needles tend to be ignorant of the risks of their actions, meaning that they might truly think they’re being safe, until they are actually infected. Each time you share a needle with someone else, you’re running the risk that you’ll develop an infection through a tiny drop of that person’s blood.

When Methadone Interacts With Other Drugs

Concerns over drug interactions center foremost on whether one substance will aggravate or alleviate the effects of another. Since methadone primarily works as an anti-addiction substance, researchers have been especially concerned with the physiological ramifications of usage and discontinuation among patients who engage in various harder drugs. In Methadone-Drug Interactions, a team of medical researchers led by Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, suggest that interactions between methadone and depressants can have respiratory consequences, particularly in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular problems.

Health is one of the key determinants of any treatment program, because the bodily weight and metabolism of a patient can serious impact their absorption of a given medication. When it comes to methadone treatment, patients can either dampen or intensify their dosages unintentionally through the simultaneous usage of other medications. Some medications quicken the metabolism of methadone through the body, while others slow that process and necessitate the use of higher dosages. There are even certain prescription drugs that negate the effects of methadone altogether, which makes it crucial to know which medicines to avoid before undergoing methadone maintenance treatment.

*Which Medications Counteract the Benefits of Methadone?

In a mini-book entitled About Methadone and Buprenorphine, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) identifies a range of medications that conflict in varying degrees with methadone treatment. Drugs that hasten the metabolism of methadone and ultimately necessitate higher dosages include the following:

  • Amprenavir (Agenerase)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Efavirenz (Sustiva)

Drugs that slow the metabolism of methadone and potentially spawn side effects include the following:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral)

Drugs that work as opioid blockers and thus negate the purpose of methadone include the following:

  • Naltrexone (Revia)
  • Pentazocine (Talwin)
  • Tramadol (Ultram)

Mixing Methadone and Cocaine

The success of methadone maintenance treatment in combating heroin addiction has aroused hopes that such treatments could also curb cocaine usage. Resulting studies have been less than favorable, and many answers can be found in speedballs: a popular street drug made from a combination of cocaine and heroin. The former works at agitating users while the latter causes a mellowing sensation, thus allowing the two drugs to alleviate the effects of one another when combined.

The problem lies in the differing expectations between addicts who use either cocaine or heroin exclusively, because the effects of one drug can sometimes resemble the withdrawal symptoms associated with the other. Studies into the effectiveness of methadone treatment for cocaine addiction are still ongoing, however, despite the general assumption that opioids contradict, rather than appease, the desires of cocaine users.

In an effort to renew hopes on this subject, the NIDA has funded recent studies in which methadone has been administered to cocaine-injected lab rats. For several weeks, these rats were injected with cocaine and placed into one chamber, and then injected with saline and placed into another chamber – thus causing the rats to associate each chamber with the preceding drug injection. After several days away from these drugs, some rats were administered varying degrees of methadone. Once released, the rats with no dosages headed straight for the cocaine chamber, but the rats given high amounts of methadone showed no particular preferences, thus indicating a drop in cocaine-seeking behavior.

Interactions Between Methadone and Alcohol

It has long been common knowledge that alcohol and medications should never be combined. As a legal yet addictive psychoactive drug, alcohol can have profound effects on the central nervous system when consumed in large quantities. High levels of blood alcohol content, or “drunkenness,” can severely impact a person’s physical coordination and sense of moral judgment. When under the influence of alcohol, recovering substance abusers face an increased likelihood of straying from their regimens.

Some of the most toxic conflicts between alcohol and drugs involve illicit and licit substances that function as depressants. Due to its effects on the central nervous system, alcohol can be especially volatile when mixed with barbiturates, antidepressants, and opioids like heroin and methadone. Therefore, a person seeking treatment over an illicit substance like heroin in a top exclusive methadone treatment facility would only be exacerbating matters by simultaneously consuming alcohol.

*What Are the Primary Risks of Combining Alcohol With Methadone?

Longtime info pooled by the NLM on opioid interactions with alcohol and vice versa has shed light on the numerous consequences of combining the two:

  • More than half of all overdoses linked to opioid usage have also involved excessive amounts of alcohol consumption.
  • Damage to the liver – which is often caused by heavy drinking – can seriously compromise the benefits of methadone.
  • Alcoholics who use opioids generally perform worse in recovery programs than their drug-free counterparts.
  • Exceeding numbers of addicts undergoing methadone maintenance treatment have also been recognized as alcoholics.

Issues When Mixing Methadone and Benzodiazepine

One of the more double-edged prescription drugs is benzodiazepine, which acts as an anticonvulsant in short-term doses but can lead to its own dependencies in the long run. Benefits of benzodiazepine include sedation and muscle relaxation, and the drug is often administered in the treatment of alcoholism, seizures, insomnia and various panic disorders. Unfortunately, benzodiazepine can also have frightening effects upon excessive long-term users, including cognitive deficits, psychomotor retardation and memory impairment. Though seldom fatal on its own, the combination of benzodiazepine with other sedating drugs like methadone can indeed be lethal.

Combining Methadone and Barbiturates

The precursor to benzodiazepines, barbiturates were marketed as a sedative throughout the early half of the 20th century. As recreational abuse accelerated after 1950, the addictive and adverse consequences of barbiturates came to be recognized, and several forms of the drug were outlawed under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Administered usage of certain barbiturates continues to this day, however, in treatments of anesthesia and euthanasia. As a sedative even more powerful than benzodiazepine, barbiturates should never be used by anyone undergoing methadone treatment.

Entering a Methadone Treatment Program

Despite the obvious controversies, methadone is one of the most championed forms of non-abstinence addiction treatment within the medical community. If heroin addiction has overtaken the life of someone close to you, there are methadone treatment programs of varying prices that can be found throughout the country. Call us to learn more about the methadone treatment options in your area and end the curse of opioid addiction amongst the people you love. Likewise, if someone you know has become addicted to methadone in attempts to treat another addiction, we can help them find a program that will lead them to full sobriety.

Overdoses Can Occur

Medications that are meant to be swallowed often contain time-release properties, meaning that a tiny amount of the drug becomes active at a time. This allows people to take the drug and feel the effects of the drug over a long period of time. If you shoot time-release methadone, you’ll get the entire impact of the drug all at once. Even a dose you might take orally with no issues could cause an overdose if you inject it, simply because you’ll have the full impact hitting your body at the exact same time. Death can quickly follow a methadone overdose.

The best way to ensure that none of these problems ever happen to you is to get help for your addiction issue. We’d like to ensure that happens. Please call our toll-free line to learn more about how treatment works, and how we can help you find the best inpatient or outpatient methadone treatment center.

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