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Misunderstandings about Methadone

From: Chapter 3: The Fundamentals of Methadone Maintenance Treatment, in Methadone Maintenance: A Counsellor's Guide to Treatment (© 2003).

Much speculation surrounds some of methadone's adverse effects, and counsellors are likely to need to discuss some of the following "methadone myths" with their clients.

Methadone rots your teeth.
Although methadone in itself does not rot the teeth, it can inhibit the production of saliva and cause dry mouth, which contributes to the production of plaque, which causes gum disease and tooth decay. Poor diet and dental hygiene may also cause dental problems. Long-standing dental problems could also become more bothersome as clients become more stable.

Methadone wrecks your sex drive.
Reports of changes in sexual desire and functioning are not uncommon among methadone clients and include increased as well as reduced sexual desire, "early" or "late" orgasm, and impotence.

Methadone makes you fat.
Some clients do gain weight when they are on methadone, and this may be influenced by lifestyle changes related to reduction in illicit drug use, including improved nutrition, reduced physical activity and reduced stress. The caloric content of the methadone drink is unlikely to contribute much to weight gain. While some methadone clients report a craving for sweets, others say their appetite is reduced.

Methadone rots your bones.
Methadone does not accumulate in bones and does not damage bones. Nevertheless, "bone" ache has been associated with methadone and methadone withdrawal.

You don't need contraceptives when you are on methadone.
For most female clients, methadone stabilizes menstrual irregularities caused by illicit opioid use. Some, however, may continue to miss their period when they go on methadone and mistakenly believe they cannot get pregnant.