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Methadone and HIV

March 2012

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Table of Contents

What Is Methadone?

If you are addicted to heroin or another opiate (opium, codeine, morphine), your health care provider may recommend methadone treatment. Methadone is a prescription drug that can help you manage your addiction. Methadone takes away your craving for heroin but does not make you feel stoned or tired. It does not interfere with day-to-day activities such as driving a car or going to work.

Each dose of methadone lasts for about 24 hours so you will only need to take it once a day. Used at the appropriate dose, methadone is a safe drug that may not have difficult side effects even if you take it for 10 years or more.


Combined with behavioral therapies, counseling, and other supportive services, methadone can help you stop using heroin and other opiates, including prescription narcotics like Percodan, Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet. Taking care of a substance abuse problem can greatly increase the success of your HIV therapy.

Can Anyone Get Methadone Treatment?

Because methadone is a federally controlled drug you must meet the requirements of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Federal requirements along with state laws can influence whether or not methadone treatment is available in your area.

You cannot get methadone in every pharmacy and you may have to go to the clinic to get your medicine. Currently advocates are pushing for methadone to be treated like any other prescription medication.

What Side Effects Are Associated With Methadone?

Methadone's common side effects are constipation and excessive sweating. However, some people on methadone also report having dry mouth, trouble urinating, erectile dysfunction, skin rash, low blood pressure (which can result in feeling tired or dizzy), and nausea.

There are street stories that methadone rots the bones and makes teeth fall out. However, there is no scientific or medical evidence that supports these myths.

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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV

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