The symptoms of methadone addiction are similar to the symptoms associated with dependence on other opiates like heroin. People who demonstrate the signs of methadone addiction should be given professional help so that they can be weaned off the drug and deal with the psychological and social issues associated with drug dependency. As with other drug dependencies, a dependency on methadone can be very challenging to treat, and friends or family members of people who have developed an addiction to methadone should not hold themselves personally responsible for it.
Methadone is a synthetic opiate which was originally developed for pain management. Today, the drug is used to help people manage opiate addiction, with patients being weaned into methadone to reduce drug dependence, and then having their methadone dosage slowly cut while being given therapy so that they kick their drug dependencies. In the process, however, it is possible to develop a methadone addiction, and people can also develop addictions by acquiring the drug illegally and consuming it for recreation, or in an attempt to manage pain or other drug addictions.
As with other people who consume opioids in high amounts, methadone addicts often experience symptoms such as constipation, drowsiness, nausea, weight loss, irregular menstruation, contracted pupils, and a suppressed cough reflex. These symptoms do not necessarily indicate addiction, but they can be a warning sign, especially if they are prolonged or they grow worse.
Signs that a patient is experiencing addiction can include a need to use increasingly higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effect, the use of very high doses of methadone in general, refusal to adhere to a dosage schedule, combining methadone with other drugs, hiding methadone usage, or expressing a desire to stop using methadone, but being unable to do so. Someone suffering from methadone addiction may be in a state of denial or he or she may hide the addiction, fearing the social consequences or the intervention of concerned friends and family members. Evasive behavior, vehement denials of drug dependence, and signs of stress during periods of methadone deprivation are also signs of methadone addiction.
Treatment for methadone addiction is most successful when the patient is ready to work on his or her addiction. Inpatient programs are often recommended so that patients can be under supervision, and be taken outside an environment which may facilitate continued abuse of methadone. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals can help people recover from methadone addiction by supervising a patient's gradual weaning off the drug and creating a supportive environment for patients who want to stop using.