Methadone Addiction: Understanding Weight Gain and Los

Legacy Healing Center Blog

Methadone and weight problems are directly connected. While methadone addiction will cause weight loss, using methadone during a drug rehabilitation program has been linked to weight gain. The fact that methadone addiction can cause loss of body mass may seem counter-intuitive to people who already know that weight gain is a common side effect of using methadone for recovery. Understanding how methadone can affect the weight of the recovering addict is critical for anyone who is in a support role as a family member, a friend or a spouse.

About Methadone and Weight Loss

Methadone is a human made substance that mimics the effects of opioids. It is often prescribed by physicians to treat heroin and other types of opioid addictions. Examples include addiction to morphine or codeine, for example. Methadone itself is not an opioid since it is produced in a laboratory environment by humans. There is always the risk that the recovering patient could then become addicted to methadone. It is often given in tablet form, but it can be taken as a power.

Weight loss methadone treatment centers can distribute this as a medication under the supervision of a doctor. According to the findings from 52 studies published in the Journal of Substance Abuse in 2005, methadone therapy is one of the most effective methods of treating heroin addiction.

The goal of the treatment is to stabilize the person so that they are no longer at risk of relapsing into their former addictive behaviors. Methadone is effective at stabilizing heroine, morphine and codeine addicts, which gives them a fighting chance to recover. However, the side effects of weight gain and loss are often severe enough that the patient has to take additional steps to cope with it.

Weight Loss Methadone Addiction

Addiction is not always straight-forward because of the way the human brain is wired to perceive rewards and to experience pleasure. The addiction will take on certain characteristics based on the perception of rewards. In the case of weight gain or loss, the issue is whether the brain perceives the methadone as the primary source of reward or if it is still craving the primary substance, like an opioid drug.

If the methadone replaces the opiates that the addict is craving, the withdrawal from the opiates can trigger an increase in desire for food. If the person becomes addicted to the methadone directly, the displacement effect occurs in a similar manner, but the person will stop craving food, sex, exercise and other rewards. The methadone itself becomes the source of reward in this case.

There are also other side effects caused by treatments that use methadone. Some of them are only experienced during the first week, and others appear to be caused by methadone but are really unrelated. Common side effects include weight gain or loss, but there are many others. Dry mouth, insomnia, excessive perspiration, constipation, loss of energy and chills are just a few of the symptoms. In addition, there are some patients who show no side effects at all from using methadone to treat their addiction to opiates.

Weight Loss, Side Effects of Methadone Addiction

All of the side effects serve as helpful signals for people who care about the addict. It can show that there is a need for professional intervention, for example. Methadone addiction can be overcome with the right environment and qualified caregivers. The clinical setting is often necessary during a certain stage of methadone recovery. Treatment programs often combine counseling and therapy with other forms of rehabilitation.

Since methadone addiction causes weight loss, this can also serve as an indicator or signal that additional help is needed. In addition to the weight loss, there is also the severity of the symptom to keep in mind. In other words, the severity of the weight loss serves as an indicator of how severe the addiction to the methadone has become.

Understanding Methadone and Weight Loss

Methadone addiction will affect each person in a slightly different way because of the personal nature of the addiction. There are complex neurological reasons for dependency. Researchers are confident stating that the brain is re-wired during the development of a chemical addiction. This happens because the brain has a natural tendency to crave certain kinds of rewards, and the substance effectively replaces this natural urge.

This is why so many addicts will lose their desire for things that they used to enjoy. Even simple pleasures like sex or eating delicious food can mysteriously disappear during an addiction to an opioid. This is also the case with methadone addiction, but the confusing part is that it can cause either weight gain or loss. The trick is to remember that methadone is a replacement for another drug. Therefore, weight problems are caused by the relationship between the addict and the primary substance. The nature of this relationship determines whether the patient will gain or lose weight.

Clinical Uses of Methadone

Methadone is often given to people who are addicted to opiates, and dramatic weight changes often observed. Methadone has been widely studied in clinics for its ability to treat dependency on opioids. In controlled studies, gender played a substantial role in the increase in the patient’s body mass index, or BMI. The contrast was stark just by looking at the percentage of weight gain for females compared to males. In the female group, the BMI increase was 17.5 percent, but it was only 6.4 percent for males.