Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is used to treat addiction to other opiates and for pain relief. When the drug is taken in large quantities it can lead to an overdose. However, most prescription overdoses are accidental as opposed rather than intentional.
Many people in the US use the drug as a recreational drug which is taken for non-medical reasons; most abusers of Methadone use it to add to other drugs.
Methadone is popular as its effects last for more than a full day, it is cheap to buy and easy to obtain. The drug has a delayed narcotic effect and low potency making it even more prone to abuse. The symptoms of the abuse will vary depending on the amount ingested and whether or not the drug was combined with other drugs. Methadone has very poor interaction with other drugs and an overdose is much more likely to occur if it was ingested with them, especially opiates or alcohol.
Abusers may experience shallow breath or other breathing difficulties, a weak pulse may also be experienced as well as skin, fingernails and lips changing to a bluish color due to oxygen starvation.
The user may also have pinpoint pupils, experience drowsiness, have a low blood pressure, be disoriented and finally fall into a coma.
A Methadone overdose is a serious medical emergency and should be treated as high priority. If an overdose of Methadone is suspected, an ambulance should be called as quickly as possible. The patient should be placed on their side to enable them to vomit without choking. Vomiting should not however be induced in case it causes the patient to lapse into unconsciousness.
Adults who have never previously used the drug can overdose the first time they use the drug if the amount ingested is too high, the same is true of children although the amount they would need to ingest is considerably less.
The treatment for a Methadone overdose involves administering antidote drugs such as naloxone while the patient has supportive care, early treatment may prevent the more serious effects of an overdose.
To be certain to prevent a methadone overdose, the user should be certain to limit their usage of the drug to the prescription amount, it should also be kept in a safe place, away from children and should never be used for recreational purposes.