Methadone overdoses kill about 5,000 people every year, six times as many as in the late 1990s, when it was prescribed almost exclusively for use in hospitals and addiction clinics where it is tightly controlled. It is four times as likely to cause an overdose death as oxycodone, and more than twice as likely as morphine. In addition, experts say it is the most addictive of all opiates. Yet as many as 33 states make it easy for doctors to prescribe the pain medicine to Medicaid patients, no questions asked.
In those states, methadone is listed as a “preferred drug,” meaning Medicaid will cover its costs without any red tape. If a drug is not on a preferred list, doctors must explain why they are prescribing it before the prescription can be filled and paid for by Medicaid…
No, methadone is not the “most addictive” of all opiates. It’s not even the strongest. The problem with methadone is that it stays in your system for a long time, unlike hydrocodone and other opioids. Pain patients and doctors don’t understand the dangers of taking methadone, and so some patients prescribed this drug have died. But they’re dying of ignorance in how to use the drug, not from the drug itself. Because methadone isn’t that strong of an opioid, many pain patients take it more often than what is prescribed. However, for those who suffer from drug addiction, methadone has proven to work just fine.
In fact, methadone has similar problems like those listed for Palladone when used to treat chronic pain, which the FDA removed from the market:
35 FDA-Approved Prescription Drugs Later Pulled from the Market
Cause for recall: high levels of palladone could slow or stop breathing, or cause coma or death; combining the drug with alcohol use could lead to rapid release of hydromorphone, in turn leading to potentially fatally high levels of drugs in the system
And restricting the use of methadone just makes it that much harder to obtain for those who suffer from drug addiction, so that’s not the answer either. Really, it’s hard to understand why doctors don’t know this stuff.