For more than 45 years, methadone has been used to treat opioid addiction. When taken under medical supervision, long-term maintenance causes no adverse effects to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, bones, blood, brain, or other vital body organs. Properly administered, methadone produces no serious side effects, although some patients experience minor symptoms such as constipation, water retention, drowsiness, skin rash, excessive sweating, and changes in libido. Once methadone dosage is adjusted and stabilized, however, these symptoms usually subside.
Methadone is a legal medication produced by licensed and approved pharmaceutical companies using established quality control standards. Under a physician's supervision, it is typically administered orally on a daily basis with strict program conditions and guidelines. Importantly, methadone does not impair cognitive functions. It has no adverse effects on mental capability, intelligence, or employability. Properly administered, it is not sedating or intoxicating, nor does it interfere with ordinary activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Patients are able to feel pain and experience emotional reactions. Most importantly, methadone relieves the craving associated with opioid addiction. While taking methadone as part of a drug treatment program, typical street doses of pain pills and heroin are ineffective at producing euphoria, which in turn reduces the allure of illicitly using opioids and, in so doing, dramatically accelerates the elimination of their use altogether. Ultimately, the stabilized methadone patient is much more receptive to behavioral counseling, which gives him or her a better chance for success.