Does Methadone Cause Weight Gain

person sitting next to scale

Opioid recovery puts the body through many changes. Sudden weight gain or weight loss can be attributed to opioid addiction treatment. As the most common pharmacological intervention for opioid dependence, there’s a lot of discussion about the effects of methadone maintenance treatment. 

One of the most talked about issues regarding methadone use is how the drug affects appetite and weight. Read on to learn more about Methadone and its impact on body weight and appetite. 

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist primarily used to treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) as a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). The FDA approved Methadone as a first-line treatment for opioid dependence in the 1970s. Methadone is safe and effective when used as prescribed.

Methadone acts on opioid receptors in the brain to block the effects of opioids such as heroin. When taken correctly, Methadone will eliminate withdrawal symptoms and relieve drug cravings. It targets the same receptors that heroin, morphine, and other opioids activate. 

Like other drugs classified as opiates, Methadone is a derivative of substances in the poppy plant. Therefore, Methadone will cause feelings of relaxation and relieve pain. However, it doesn’t have the same intensity of psychoactive effects as heroin.

Methadone is available in tablet, powder, and liquid forms. Each of these forms is taken by mouth. Methadone is also available as an injection that can only be given by a doctor.

How Does Methadone Affect the Body?

Addiction medications and treatments can have various effects on the body. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using Methadone for opioid addiction is no different. Weight gain, weight loss, or body fat redistribution are common side effects of using Methadone for opioid addiction.

Note that every individual may respond differently to using Methadone during opioid addiction treatment. However, there’s an increased risk of weight gain when individuals with opioid addiction start using Methadone as a part of their opiate addiction recovery. 

People may gain weight while taking methadone for various reasons. There are two leading possible causes for methadone-related weight gain in medication-assisted treatment: 

  • Increased cravings for sweet foods. Research shows that opioids change how the body metabolizes sugar. Opioid exposure is associated with increased sugar intake by increased causing sugar cravings. Like other opioids, Methadone can increase the desire for sweet foods, leading to weight gain.
  • Situational factors. Situational changes during the body’s transition throughout the recovery process can also cause weight gain. Gaining weight during or after opioid addiction treatment could indicate that a person’s health is improving through better, more regular nutrition.

As one can see, Methadone doesn’t always directly cause a change in weight during medication-assisted treatment. Many factors can influence a person’s weight during opioid addiction and recovery. 

Understanding the cause of changes in a person’s weight during methadone treatment will help them manage their recovery. With quality addiction treatment, one can avoid noticeable weight gain with physical activity and nutritional counseling and stay healthy during methadone treatment. 

How is Methadone Used?

Methadone is an opioid, like heroin or opioid pain medications. However, Methadone is mainly used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help people reduce or stop their use of opioids, particularly heroin. This drug is available on prescription only.

Methadone has been used to treat individuals addicted to heroin and narcotic pain medicines for decades. When it comes to opioid addiction treatment and recovery, Methadone can be used in two ways: 

  • Detoxification (detox). This approach to heroin and narcotic pain medicines treatment helps addicted persons become drug-free. Treatment involves switching the patient to Methadone before withdrawing it entirely so they are free of the primary drug and the Methadone. 
  • Maintenance Therapy. Methadone treats opioid use disorders involving short-acting opioids such as heroin. During maintenance therapy, the person addicted to heroin or pain meds switches to a daily dose of Methadone as a substitute. 

Staying on a stable dose of Methadone relieves the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings associated with heroin. Unlike detox, maintenance therapy using Methadone is usually long-term. Some individuals may require maintenance therapy for years. 

However, the duration of methadone treatment for opioid use disorder varies from person to person. Nothing is set in stone regarding methadone treatments for opioid addiction. You can begin taking Methadone for maintenance therapy and go on to detox and become free of heroin and Methadone. 

What Are the Risks of Using Methadone?

If someone is struggling with opioid use disorder, they will be happy to know that Methadone is an effective treatment. Methadone has been successfully used to treat opioid dependence for nearly half a century now. 

However, there’s still widespread skepticism stemming from the perceived risks of methadone treatment. Research shows that methadone treatment is safe when used exactly as prescribed. That being said, interaction with other drugs is always risky. 

It’s imperative to share a complete medical history with the health provider. It’s the best way to ensure the safe use of Methadone. That’s because methadone treatment is always specifically tailored for the individual. As with most medications, the side effects of methadone can be managed by a medical professional.

Any side effects should be taken seriously as they may indicate an overdose. People should stop taking Methadone and get medical help immediately if they experience any of the following: 

  • A fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Light-headedness 
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion or hallucination

Methadone Treatment with Bellagio Residential Treatment Center

Methadone is safe and effective for reducing opioid dependence and drug-related harm when used correctly. Successful methadone maintenance treatment entails taking care of every aspect of your health. Get treatment that meets all your needs by coordinating care with your providers.

Are you ready to get help for opioid addiction? Don’t let common public misconceptions regarding Methadone discourage you from seeking comprehensive treatment. Let a team of caring, knowledgeable professionals at Bellagio RTC aid the rest of your recovery journey. 

At Bellagio RTC, we have the knowledge and experience to help you stay healthy throughout recovery. We offer several treatment programs backed by the latest research and practices, tailored to individual needs. Contact us to find out which personalized programs are suitable for you.


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