Methadone and Xanax are often combined by people on methadone maintenance programs. The combination increases the “high” of both drugs and many users compare it to the “high” that is experienced when using heroin.
Methadone is a very strong painkiller. It is also used to treat heroin addiction: methadone can suppress drug withdrawal symptoms as an addiction treatment for 24 hours; the drug’s ability to suppress pain lasts just four to eight hours.
Used primarily for the management of heroin addiction until the late 1990s, methadone has become one of the most widely prescribed opioid painkillers, with 4 million prescriptions written for pain relief in 2006 alone.
It has also become one of the most deadly drugs around, the report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) confirms.
The Problem with Methadone
Increased concerns about the abuse potential of the pain reliever OxyContin and the desire for a relatively inexpensive long-acting opioid painkiller led to the shift in methadone use.
Methadone stays in the system as long as 59 hours. Patients may feel they need more pain relief before the drug is cleared from the body, and if taken too often or at doses that are too high, toxic levels can build up, which can lead to life-threatening changes in breathing and heart function.
Methadone is dangerous because of the time it takes for users to feel the effects. It takes a while for its action to be perceived by the patient, and in this age of instant gratification — ‘Hey, I still hurt’ — they grab a second one or even a third one, and by the time everything kicks in, they end up dead.
Deaths due to the misuse of the painkilling drug methadone increased 600 percent from 1999 to 2005, according to the latest statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics. Deaths from methadone overdoes increased from 786 in 1999 to 4,462 in 2005, the agency reported. Methadone deaths have risen sevenfold in less than a decade, according to a government report that largely blames the increase on the growing use of methadone for pain relief.
Deadly Mix: Methadone and Xanax or other Sedatives
A report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that a lack of knowledge about the “unique pharmacological properties” of methadone among prescribing physicians and patients has contributed to the problem, as has a rise in methadone’s use as an illegal street drug.
But at least half of the reported opioid-related deaths involved other drugs, including heroin or cocaine in 15% of cases and benzodiazepines such as Xanax in 17% of cases.
“The involvement of Xanax – a sedative used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures – is particularly troubling as previous studies have shown that people who were prescribed both methadone and Xanax were at greater risk of overdose than those prescribed only one of these drugs,” the report notes.
Florida alone, which keeps detailed data, listed methadone as a cause in 785 deaths in 2007, up from 367 in 2003. In most cases it was mixed with other drugs like Xanax that increased the risks.
Synergistic Effect: Xanax and Methadone
Using methadone and Xanax may increases side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience some impairment in thinking and judgment. The effects of Xanax are made stronger by the use of methadone and vice versa.
When taken together, Xanax and methadone cause the brain to forget to tell the heart to beat and the lungs to pump. The person falls asleep; their breathing slows, and eventually stops. This is how death occurs when mixing Xanax and methadone.
If you or someone you love is addicted to Methadone or Xanax, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.