Methadone for Pain Control
Methadone is an opioid (narcotic) that provides pain relief. You have been prescribed methadone to help control your chronic pain.
You may have heard that methadone is also used as part of treatment programs for drug addiction. You have been prescribed methadone to treat pain, not addiction. Be sure to let your doctor and others know that you are taking it for this reason.
When people with pain take an active role in their pain management and work with their health care providers, they get the best results. This means less pain and a more active, productive life.
Before starting methdone, tell your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist if you have asthma, seizures, low blood pressure, liver disease or kidney disease. Also, let us know if you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant while using this drug, or are breast-feeding.
Facts You Should Know About Methadone:
- Your methadone dose in milligrams may be lower than your dose of morphine. This is because it is stronger than morphine.
- Methadone tablets or liquid can provide pain relief for up to 6-8 hours.
- Methadone leaves the body very slowly, and it builds up slowly in the body over time. This means that the dose should not be increased more often than every 10-14 days. Do not change your dose without talking with your doctor.
- If your pain is poorly controlled or goes up and down a great deal, methadone may not be the best choice, because its dose cannot be adjusted quickly.
- Methadone is a strong opioid (narcotic) and has some actions in the body that may control certain types of nerve pain better than other opioids (narcotics).
- Methadone is inexpensive compared to many other opioid (narcotic) drugs.
How to Use This Medicine: Take methadone exactly as directed. If something isn’t clear, ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse to explain it until you are sure you understand.
- Take regularly to get the best relief.
- Take with food or milk to avoid stomach upset.
- Tablets: Take the tablets with a full glass of water.
- Liquid: To make sure that you get a correct dose, measure the liquid with a dose-measuring spoon, dropper, or cup. Do not use regular spoons to measure your medicine. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist where you can get one. If you mix the liquid with juice or some other form of drink, take the whole amount right away. Do not store the liquid after it has been diluted.
- Your health care provider may suggest counseling or other treatment while you are being treated with methadone.
- Your body will get used to taking this drug. If you stop taking it suddenly, you may have a withdrawal that can last for a few days. You may feel uncomfortable and have flu-like symptoms. Do not stop taking it without first talking to your doctor. If needed, your health care provider may reduce the dose over time.
If you miss a dose: Take the missed dose as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses at the same time.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:
- Store at room temperature, away from heat and moisture. The oral liquid may be stored in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
- Keep out of the reach of children. Never share this medicine with others. Use it only for the reasons it was prescribed.
Warnings While Using Methadone:
- Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before using any other drugs, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Make sure your doctor knows if you are taking any drugs that could make you drowsy. This includes sedatives, cold or allergy medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, or other opioid (narcotic) drugs.
- Methadone may make you drowsy or dizzy. If you notice these symptoms, do not drive, operate machinery, or perform other hazardous activities.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Do not use other opioid (narcotic) drugs.
Side Effects While Using Methadone
Call your doctor right away if your notice these side effects.
Let you doctor know about less serious side effects:
If you notice other side effects that you think may be caused by this medicine, tell your health care provider.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/10/2011
Copyright © 08/10/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6008
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