How Does Methadone Work? The Half-Life and Peak Levels of Methadone

how methadone works

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How is methadone used?

Methadone is a synthetic drug that is generally used as part of the treatment program given to patients with an opioid addiction. The purpose of prescribing this medication is to suppress withdrawal symptoms for a certain period of time. Although methadone is used for medical purposes, there’s a risk addiction if taken in higher doses.

How is methadone taken?

Methadone can be ingested orally or can be taken as an injection. The drug can be found in various forms, either as pill or tablet, liquid solution, or powder. Abuse or misuse of methadone is most common when snorted as a powdered form, or when taken with alcohol.

What are the peak levels and half-life of methadone?

The half-life of methadone is 15-60 hours, and the duration of the drug’s analgesic effect is between 4-8 hours. Methadone in the blood reaches peak levels 4 hours after intake. A methadone drug test or urine screening is commonly performed on methadone users and can accurately get a result up to four days after the last dose.

How dangerous is a methadone addiction?

Methadone abuse and addiction can be quite dangerous, especially if a user increases their dosage to achieve a high, and their dependence shifts to accommodate those behaviors. An addiction to methadone will have similar side effects to a morphine addiction; continued use can result in alarming and life-threatening symptoms.

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How to break a methadone addiction?

The first step to breaking a methadone addiction is for the addict to accept that he or she needs professional help and medical treatment. Methadone addiction is a treatable case as long as the patient is willing to undergo drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, and is determined to reach full recovery.

View Sources
  1. Grissinger M. Keeping patients safe from methadone overdoses. Physical Therapy. 2011; 36(8): 462–466.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health services Administration. Methadone. 2019.


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