What is the prevalence of methadone opioid toxicity?

Updated: Jul 19, 2021
  • Author: Everett Stephens, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

Methadone, a long-acting narcotic often used to attenuate withdrawal symptoms and used in narcotics recovery programs, also has extensive potential for abuse. It can be ingested orally or pills can be crushed and used intravenously or intranasally. [42] In studies by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1999-2010, methadone accounted for 4.5-18.5% of narcotics sold in the United States and was involved in 31% of opioid deaths in the 13 states involved in the study. In addition, CDC analysis of data collected from 2004-2009 revealed a significant increase in the nonmedical use of methadone alone or in combination with other drugs. [43]

In recent years, methadone has also been used increasingly for treatment of chronic pain. However, patients using methadone face serious risks related to risk of overdose and cardiac arrhythmias, and consequently require careful dose initiation and titration, along with diligent monitoring and follow-up. [44]


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