A study done by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health showed how long-term methadone use changes the brain. The results demonstrated how the treatment affects the nerve cells in the brain. Previous research has shown how methadone use affects cognitive functioning in humans and even experimental animals. Methadone addiction is an issue within the United States. Despite it being used in addiction treatment, it is still an opioid. In a study published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Long-term methadone use was shown to cause damage to the nerves, liver, and even the brain.
In 2009 in the United States, the Center for Disease Control found that over 4 million people have prescribed methadone. In that same year, overdoses related to methadone made up one-third of prescription painkiller deaths. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methadone creates numerous short-term effects. These are sedation, euphoria, drowsiness, pain relief, and feelings of relaxation. Methadone users will experience nausea, constipation, decreased respiratory rate, lowered heart rate, sweating, and mood swings. Taking too much methadone will cause an overdose, with the potential of causing death. The long-term effects of methadone are linked to abuse, which typically happens when you remain on the drug for longer than needed.
A methadone user will experience cardiovascular issues, respiratory issues, and reduced respiration rates. Changes in the brain will occur, such as those associated with learning and memory. Specifically learning by reinforcement, which is the area of the brain referred to as the reward or pleasure center. The body and mind will become physically dependent on methadone and the user will develop an opiate use disorder. Methadone addiction is a real problem. Like any addiction, a methadone addict will struggle with many of the same issues as any other addict.