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Can You Snort Methadone?

Can You Snort Methadone

Can You Snort Methadone? Side Effects, Overdose, & Addiction Treatment Options

Dangers of Snorting, Smoking or Injecting Methadone

Normally, methadone is to be taken orally. However, some individuals decide to inhale or snort their methadone instead. While this might seem more glamorous than simply taking a pill, it can have deadly consequences. Methadone is an opioid medication used for the treatment of pain as well as to treat opioid drug addiction [1]. It is similar to morphine with longer-lasting effects. Methadone is physically addictive, especially when used in high doses. If taken repeatedly, tolerance to this drug can develop fast. This means the user will need to take more Methadone to achieve the desired effects. In methadone detox, patients are treated for methadone withdrawal and allowed to slowly put an end to their methadone dependence.

Those with a dependence on this drug will experience methadone withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue taking the medication. Withdrawal happens because the body has to relearn how to function without Methadone in its system. While the body tries to reestablish normal functions, uncomfortable opioid withdrawal symptoms occur, making recovery difficult.

Can You Snort Methadone
Methadone is a prescription medication that works in the brain to treat pain and opioid use disorder.

In general, methadone is specifically formulated to produce measured or controlled effects. If this drug is altered, such as when the tablets are crushed to be snorted, smoked, or injected, this is considered drug abuse, and it changes the way methadone is absorbed and metabolized in the body.

Snorting Methadone

Snorting methadone is a quick route of administration of the drug, sending it straight across the blood-brain barrier for a near-instantaneous high. The risk for overdose when taking methadone in this manner is much higher than it is when taking it orally. Less of the drug is needed for fatal results as well.

An opioid overdose can be life-threatening. It can lead to coma or brain damage. Swift administration of the opioid antagonist naloxone can help to reverse a methadone overdose.

An additional side effect of snorting methadone is long-term damage to the nasal and sinus cavities, which can cause a person to suffer from chronic nosebleeds and a runny nose as well as possible permanent damage to the sense of smell. 

Respiratory issues, such as lung infections and illnesses, can also result from snorting methadone. Since the drug is more powerful when snorted, abusing it in this manner can more quickly lead to drug dependence and addiction.

Smoking Methadone

When methadone is smoked, it may often be combined with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, or marijuana. Mixing methadone with other drugs can lead to dangerous and unintended complications, not the least of which is overdose.

As a central nervous system depressant, if methadone is combined with other opioids, benzodiazepines, sedatives, or alcohol, these substances can interact with each other to exacerbate the effects of the sedative. Respiratory depression and cardiovascular collapse can be disastrous results.

Smoking methadone with stimulant drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, or prescription stimulants can also be hazardous, as these substances work opposite ways. This means the stimulant drug can mute the sedative effects of methadone. A person may then take more and more of each without recognizing that the drugs are actually building up in the bloodstream. As a result, they can reach toxic levels quickly.

Injecting Methadone

People who inject methadone are at risk for a number of complications, including damage to the heart, arteries, and veins. Methadone is composed of a number of additives, and injecting the drug prevents these additives from being broken down. As a result, these toxins can enter the bloodstream and damage the system.

Injecting methadone tablets or liquid greatly increases the risk of overdose and death because too much of the drug is entering the body at one time. Intravenous drug use also increases the risk of skin and heart infections (endocarditis). It is common among people who abuse substances via injection.

Methadone Side Effects 

Along with its needed effects, methadone may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention [2].

Methadone Side Effects Requiring Immediate Medical Attention

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking methadone:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • Bleeding gums
  • Blood in the urine or stools
  • Blurred vision
  • Bulging soft spot on the head of an infant
  • Change in the ability to see colors, especially blue or yellow
  • Changes in skin color
  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Decreased urine output
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficult, fast, noisy breathing
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Dilated neck veins
  • Dizziness
  • Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Hives, itching, or skin rash
  • Increased sweating
  • Increased thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental depression
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • Pain
  • Pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • Puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • Seizures
  • Sweating
  • Swelling of the face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
  • Tenderness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble urinating
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Weight gain

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking methadone:

Symptoms of overdose

  • Change in consciousness
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Constricted, pinpoint, or small pupils (black part of the eye)
  • Coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum
  • Decreased awareness or responsiveness
  • Increased sweating
  • Irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • No muscle tone or movement
  • Pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles

Methadone Side Effects Not Requiring Immediate Medical Attention

Some side effects of methadone may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

  • Absent, missed, or irregular menstrual periods
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred or loss of vision
  • Confusion about identity, place, and time
  • Constipation
  • Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • Disturbed color perception
  • Double vision
  • False or unusual sense of well-being
  • Halos around lights
  • Inability to have or keep an erection
  • Irritability
  • Lack or loss of strength
  • Loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • Night blindness
  • The overbright appearance of lights
  • Redness, swelling, or soreness of the tongue
  • Restlessness
  • Stopping of menstrual bleeding
  • Tunnel vision
  • Weight changes
  • Welts

Methadone Side Effects on Heart

Methadone may cause a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder. Call your doctor at once if you have a headache with chest pain and severe dizziness, and fast or pounding heartbeats. Your heart function may need to be checked during treatment. 

Methadone Side Effects on Stomach

Methadone can cause various side effects associated with an upset stomach such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. Many similar symptoms are associated with opiate withdrawal but while taking methadone, these symptoms are generally less severe and will subside on their own in time. If you experience any side effects that prevent you from holding down fluids for a prolonged period, you should seek prompt medical attention as this could lead to dehydration and other serious complications.

Can You Snort Methadone
You can become dependent on methadone. Your brain may begin to rely on the pain relief it brings.

Methadone Side Effects on Skin

Feeling itchy after taking methadone isn’t usually a major cause for concern. This is common, and the sensation may subside shortly. A methadone allergy or adverse reaction to methadone, however, is worth discussing with your doctor. Together, you can both determine whether continuing to take methadone is right for you.

Methadone Side Effects on Teeth

Methadone side effects on teeth aren’t often as pronounced as what’s seen with methamphetamines, but it can contribute to some tooth decay. The reason methadone’s side effects on teeth are present is that it can cause dry mouth, which increases the presence of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.

Dangers of Abuse 

Abusing methadone comes with many potential dangers, regardless of how the drug is ingested. The more methadone a person consumes, the more likely he or she is to experience these dangers.

Potential side effects of methadone use include:

  • Confusion or impaired cognition
  • Memory problems
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed heart rate and breathing
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches

Additionally, abusing methadone increases a person’s risk of overdose. A methadone overdose can be incredibly dangerous and even deadly if not properly treated. Side effects of an overdose include clammy skin, shallow breath, coma, and convulsions. If you believe someone is suffering from a methadone overdose, seek medical help immediately.

Methadone Overdose 

All opioids have a risk of overdose. The risk is especially high when you start treatment and stop taking opioids (methadone or other opioids) for a while and then start again. Mixing opioids with other drugs also increases the risk of overdose [3]. If you or someone you know uses opioids, it is a good idea to have a free naloxone kit. Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and allow time for medical help to arrive.

An overdose involving methadone is a potentially life-threatening emergency. It is indicated by any of the following:

  •  Trouble breathing
  •  Cold and bluish skin
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Drowsiness and loss of consciousness
  •  Pinpoint pupils
  •  Irregular heart rate
  •  Extreme mental confusion
  •  Balance and coordination issues
  •  Muscle weakness
  •  Agitation
  •  Hallucinations

Signs That Someone Is Addicted 

Tolerance

Tolerance happens in the body when it “gets used to” having a certain substance like methadone. For example, when a person is given a prescription, the doctor may tell them that they will feel dizzy for a day or two until they adjust to the new chemical compounds contained in the medication. When the dizziness wears off, tolerance has been achieved. 

In the case of an individual who seeks that dizzy feeling, or the “high” provided by the medication, it is necessary to take more of the drug to achieve the feeling. Even if someone does not intend to become intoxicated, they may take more of the medication when the painkilling effects aren’t as profound.

Withdrawal 

Because methadone is a synthetic opioid drug, the withdrawal symptoms are similar to heroin. Unlike heroin, methadone withdrawal can take several days to develop. Withdrawal symptoms will happen when a person stops taking the drug whether they are entering a detox treatment as the first step in an overall recovery plan, or simply because they have run out of their drug of choice and been unable to obtain more. These symptoms include:

  • Sore muscles
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Fatigue

Lack of Control

In some circumstances, addiction to methadone, like other drugs, can derail a person’s best intentions. For instance, someone may recognize, on a conscious level, that they have a problem with methadone, They may tell themselves, or you, that they will only take a little of the drug to stave off the withdrawal symptoms. They may insist that they will only use it on the weekends or in social settings. They insist they are in control. 

When the time comes, however, they may use more of the drug than even they intended, seemingly unable to stop until there are no drugs left. This compulsion to use the drugs is a serious sign that addiction may be present.

Using Drugs Becomes a Life Priority

When someone suffering from addiction wakes in the morning, they may have only one thought on their mind. Where can they obtain their daily dose of methadone for the day? They may spend an incredible amount of time arranging for the purchase of the drugs, until such time as they have an adequate supply in their possession. 

More Important Than Family

Some individuals who have become addicted to drugs like methadone will choose to use drugs rather than take part in activities that used to be important to them. They may elect to stay home and abuse drugs rather than attend a school play in which their child is performing. They may miss school meetings, birthday parties, and even holidays with friends and family. They may be frequently absent from work because they are too sick or too tired due to their drug use.

Methadone Addiction

Because many individuals receive prescriptions for strong painkillers every year, more and more people suffer from addiction to prescription pain medications. These are often oxycodone- or hydrocodone-based medicines, such as Vicodin, Percocet, or OxyContin. In addition, lawmakers and regulators now say that prescription pain medications are over-prescribed for problems that may not be fixed by this medication, such as chronic back pain, or they are prescribed in large quantities for post-surgery pain treatment.

Although the Food and Drug Administration does not recommend methadone as a prescription painkiller for these types of pain, over 4 million prescriptions were written for methadone in 2009. The rise in methadone prescriptions, specifically for use as a painkiller, is because methadone is cheap, especially compared to hydrocodone and oxycodone. In addition, insurance companies are sometimes more willing to cover the cost of methadone instead of brand-name opioid painkillers, which has driven many people to switch their prescriptions to methadone.

Because methadone is designed to be a long-acting drug, it can build up very quickly in the body, which can mean that taking even one more dose than prescribed can lead to an overdose. Therefore, unless carefully monitored by a medical professional, methadone use is dangerous, and abuse or addiction can lead to severe consequences.

Methadone’s half-life, depending on dose, ranges anywhere from 8 to 59 hours, while the analgesic, or painkilling, effects last up to 8 hours. The long half-life benefits those recovering from a heroin or prescription painkiller addiction, as it stays in the body to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. However, it is less effective for treating chronic pain conditions related to diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, or osteoarthritis because the painkilling effects do not last as long as the drug remains in the body. As a result, individuals who take methadone as a painkiller can put themselves in danger of an overdose if their pain returns before safely taking their next dose.

Can You Snort Methadone
One of the biggest risks of trying to stop using methadone cold turkey is relapse.

Methadone Addiction Treatment

There is a strong link between mental health and substance abuse. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like depression, ADHD, and anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. These co-occurring disorders can make each other worse without proper treatment.

If you’re asking the question, “can you snort methadone?”, then you should also be aware of the risks involved in doing so. If you are experiencing methadone withdrawal, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.

Medically-Assisted Detox

Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of methadone withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete methadone detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of methadone withdrawals.

Psychotherapy 

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Prescription drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for alcohol use disorder and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

 If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term prescription drug abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as ADHD, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

Can You Snort Methadone
Medically-assisted detox should ideally be followed by comprehensive addiction treatment that involves behavioral therapy and complementary forms of treatment
Sources:

[1] NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682134.html

[2] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/

[3] SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/methadone