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Methadone

Supportive Care

Brand names:

Dolophine®, Methadose™

Other names:

Methadone hydrochloride

Often used for:

Pain

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About Methadone

Methadone is a long-acting opioid medicine used to control pain. This medicine may be given in the clinic, hospital, or at home.

This drug may be habit-forming with long-term use. Follow dosing instructions carefully. Families may be asked to keep a record of doses taken so the doctor can prescribe the best possible pain control.

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May be taken as a tablet by mouth

 
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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

 
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May be taken as a liquid by mouth

 
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Possible Side Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slower than normal rates of breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Itching and hives
  • Mood changes (feeling sadder or happier than usual)
  • Dry mouth
  • Fainting
  • Problems urinating

Not all patients who take methadone will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • If patients have any of the side effects listed above, most should decrease after taking methadone for a couple of days. Tell the doctor if the side effects increase while taking this medicine.
  • If taking this medicine regularly, patients should increase fluid and fiber intake to help prevent constipation. Tell the care team if the patient has not had a bowel movement in 3 to 5 days. Patients may need to take a stool softener or laxative to relieve constipation.
  • If patients are taking this medicine regularly or for a long time, they should not stop this medicine until the doctor instructs. During this time, watch for a sudden onset of diarrhea, headache, sweating, muscle cramps, trouble sleeping, nausea, vomiting, or feeling restless. If these symptoms occur, call the doctor right away. It could mean the dose is being decreased too fast.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant, attempting to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Methadone at home:

  • Do not take more often or in greater amounts than recommended.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive or do anything that could be dangerous until you see how this medicine affects you.
  • Take methadone with food if stomach upset occurs.
  • For liquid methadone, use the measuring device that comes with the medicine. Measure doses carefully.
  • For effervescent tablets, drop tablet in water and juice. Drink when dissolved.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time. 
  • Store at room temperature. Some formulations may need to be protected from light. Follow instructions from the pharmacy.
  • This drug may be habit-forming with long-term use. Watch for signs of misuse.
  • Do not share this medicine with anyone or give for reasons other than prescribed.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe storage and disposal.