Methadone Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Can you get addicted to methadone? Methadone is a synthetic opioid with a prolonged duration of action. It is commonly indicated for the treatment of opioid addiction, including addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers like oxycodone or hydrocodone. While the medication can be effective in managing opiate dependency under close supervision, addiction to methadone may develop rapidly.

Although closely monitored in addiction treatment, methadone has been prescribed for chronic pain due to its affordability relative to other prescription painkillers. Consequently, many people, including those previously unexposed to opioid medications, have encountered methadone, leading to an increase in methadone addiction cases and its misuse as a recreational substance.

Is Methadone Addictive?

Methadone, a full opioid agonist, strongly binds to opioid receptors throughout the brain and other areas of the body. It is a long-acting substance that thwarts the pleasurable sensations associated with opioid misuse, deterring potential relapses.

Despite its application in addiction treatment, methadone has narcotic properties and a substantial potential for abuse and dependence. The development of tolerance can prompt some people to escalate their methadone dosage in an attempt to recreate the initial effects. This pattern of drug misuse can lead to dependence and addiction as the body and mind become reliant on the substance.

A man sits at the beach wondering if you can get addicted to methadone

Signs of Methadone Addiction

Signs of methadone addiction can manifest in various behavioral, physical, and psychological changes. These signs serve as indicators that someone might be struggling with addiction to methadone. Recognizing these signs early can aid in prompt intervention and the initiation of appropriate treatment. Common signs include:

  • Persistent drowsiness: Methadone addiction can lead to excessive and persistent drowsiness, making it difficult for some people to stay awake and alert during the day.
  • Unintentional weight loss: Prolonged methadone use may lead to unintended weight loss due to a reduced appetite and changes in metabolism, which can contribute to malnutrition and other health complications.
  • Mood swings and irritability: Individuals addicted to methadone may experience severe mood swings, ranging from euphoria to irritability and agitation, often leading to difficulties in maintaining stable interpersonal relationships.
  • Excessive sweating: Methadone addiction can cause excessive sweating, even in cool or comfortable environments.
  • Persistent digestive issues: Chronic methadone use can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, nausea, and vomiting, which can significantly affect overall well-being and quality of life.
  • Decline in cognitive function: Prolonged methadone addiction may lead to cognitive impairment, including difficulties with memory, attention, and decision-making abilities, hindering the person’s overall cognitive function and ability to perform daily tasks effectively.

Develop an awareness of these signs and seek professional help if you suspect that you or a loved one is struggling with methadone addiction. Timely intervention can greatly improve the chances of successful recovery and long-term sobriety.

Methadone Addiction Symptoms

According to DSM-5-TR  these are the symptoms of methadone addiction (opioid use disorder):

  1. Taking methadone in larger amounts or for longer periods than intended.
  2. Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control methadone use.
  3. Spending a significant amount of time acquiring, using, or recovering from methadone’s effects.
  4. Experiencing strong cravings or an intense desire to use methadone.
  5. Continued methadone use leading to the neglect of major responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued methadone use, despite it causing social or interpersonal problems.
  7. Giving up important social, work, or recreational activities due to methadone use.
  8. Using methadone in situations that could be physically hazardous.
  9. Continued methadone use, despite the awareness of persistent physical or psychological issues related to its use.
  10. Tolerance, indicated by the need for increasing amounts of methadone to achieve the desired effects or a diminished effect with continued use of the same amount.
  11. Withdrawal, demonstrated by characteristic opioid withdrawal symptoms or using methadone or other opioids to alleviate or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment for Methadone Addiction

Whether someone began with non-therapeutic use of methadone or they were prescribed methadone to treat opioid use disorder, addressing methadone addiction calls for a combination of medical detoxification and comprehensive therapy.

Since methadone belongs to the opioid class, a supervised medical detox process is essential for withdrawal. In some cases, a gradual tapering of methadone dosage may be employed, while other individuals might be transitioned to an alternative medication – buprenorphine, for example.


This semi-synthetic narcotic was the first FDA-approved medication for the treatment of opioid addiction treatment with increased flexibility, may be prescribed for home use. Although it shares some similarities with methadone and other opioids, it is considered to have lower abuse potential.

LAAM (L-alpha-acetylmethadol)

A Schedule II substance commonly utilized in opioid addiction treatment, LAAM serves as another alternative to methadone. It can be beneficial for individuals struggling with methadone addiction, despite the potential for side effects such as nausea, rash increased blood pressure, and impaired liver function during long-term use.

Psychiatric medications

Withdrawal and recovery often entail various psychological or emotional complications. With careful oversight, medications to alleviate anxiety or depression can be integrated as part of the treatment plan in addition to individual and group therapy.

Individuals battling methadone addictions frequently suffer from co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or schizophrenia. These individuals may resort to self-medicating their symptoms with alcohol, illicit narcotics, or prescription medications. Mental health professionals and medical experts involved in addiction treatment prioritize the identification of underpinning mental health issues that may have contributed to self-medicating behaviors. A holistic approach addressing all co-occurring disorders is crucial for sustained recovery from methadone addiction.


What is the methadone addiction rate in the United States?

There is limited specific information available on the methadone addiction rate in the United States. Methadone is recognized as an addictive substance, and while it is used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, there is potential for dependency and misuse. That said, being on methadone is considered safer than being dependent on illicit opioids like heroin or fentanyl.

Is methadone addicting when used as directed?

Yes, methadone can be addictive, even when used as directed. Adhere strictly to the prescribed dosage and follow medical guidance during the course of treatment to minimize the risk of developing dependency. Regular monitoring and close supervision by healthcare professionals are necessary to ensure the safe and effective use of methadone in managing opioid use disorder.

Ohio Recovery Centers | Ohio Addiction Rehab where addiction treatment is available

Get Treatment for Methadone Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

Methadone can be highly effective for treating opioid addictions, but it can also be addictive when used long-term. We can help you address any type of opioid use disorder at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH.

We offer outpatient programs and intensive outpatient programs, enabling you to remain anchored to your commitments while engaging with evidence-based addiction treatment. During ongoing treatment, you can access the following therapies:

Call 877-679-2132 and start thriving methadone-free.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn