What Is Methadose?

Methadose (methadone) is an opioid prescription medication that can be used as detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid use disorder in conjunction with appropriate social and medical services. Methadone can also be used for severe chronic (long-term) pain.

Methadone is an opioid agonist. For opioid use disorder, methadone provides similar effects to other opiate medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms. For pain, methadone works by affecting how the central nervous system (CNS) responds to pain. The CNS includes the brain and spinal cord.

Methadone can be habit-forming and result in misuse or dependence. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance.

Methadose and its methadone generics are available as a concentrated liquid and a high-strength dispersible (soluble) tablet.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Methadone

Brand Name(s): Methadose

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral (by mouth)

Therapeutic Classification: Opioid

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: Yes, Schedule II

Active Ingredient: Methadone hydrochloride

Dosage Form(s): Tablet, concentrated liquid

What Is Methadose Used For?

Methadose can be used for the following:

  • Detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid use disorder in conjunction with appropriate social and medical services: Some symptoms of opioid use disorder may include sleeping problems and behavioral changes.
  • Severe chronic pain (as generic methadone): In a 2016 survey in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 50 million adults live with chronic pain—with about 20 million adults experiencing high-impact pain. High-impact pain is pain that lasts for three months or longer—with restriction on at least one major activity, such as your ability to perform household chores, go to school, or work outside your home.

How to Take Methadose

Since the dosage and directions might vary per person and the specific methadone product, carefully take the medication according to your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

If you are using methadone to relieve pain, it’s typically taken by mouth every eight to 12 hours. 

If used as part of a detoxification or maintenance program for opioid use disorder, you will also take the dispersible tablet or concentrated liquid by mouth.

Before taking the dispersible tablet, however, you may need to split the tablet along the scored line. You will also need to mix the recommended number of tablets with at least 120 milliliters (mL), or 4 ounces, of fluid—like water, orange juice, or another acidic fruit drink. Make sure to drink this mixture immediately. If you still notice some tablet pieces in your cup, pour a small amount of additional fluid into the cup and drink this mixture.

How to Store Methadose

Since Methadose is a Schedule II controlled substance, you cannot get any refills. A new prescription from your healthcare provider is required if more medication is necessary.

Additionally, secure storage of controlled substances is important to help prevent misuse or accidental consumption. In general, consider storing methadone in a locked cabinet or a similar safe place. Keep Methadose dispersible (soluble) tablets and concentrated liquid dosage forms at room temperature (68–77 degrees F).

If you have leftover or expired medication, disposal through a drug-take-back program is a safe option for getting rid of it. These may be found in your local pharmacies or law enforcement facilities. If no take-back location is available, methadone can be flushed down the toilet, according to the FDA. The agency only recommends this for certain medications.

If you plan to travel with Methadose, become familiar with the regulations of your final destination. Make a copy of your Methadose prescription, and ask for documentation of medical necessity with an official letterhead from your healthcare provider. Also, keep your prescription in its original container or packaging—with your name on it—from the pharmacy.

How Long Does Methadose Take to Work?

After two to four hours of a Methadose dose, you might notice control of your withdrawal symptoms. Within 24 to 72 hours, you might also experience side effects—like a slower breathing rate.

In general, methadone usually reaches steady levels in the body within three to five days. So, Methadose requires three to five days to achieve full effectiveness. By this time, you should notice some improvement in your pain or withdrawal symptoms. In some people, however, Methadose might take longer to become fully effective.

Since Methadose's effects can be highly variable for each individual, your healthcare provider will closely monitor your symptoms and side effects. Then, if necessary, they will adjust your methadone dose accordingly.

What Are the Side Effects of Methadose?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of Methadose include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Sweating

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Methadose has a boxed warning, which is an FDA safety-related warning assigned to a medication, for the following risks:

  • Severe or fatal respiratory depression: This risk can be excessive and serious—especially when methadone is combined with other medications that suppress the CNS. Examples of CNS-suppressing medications include alcohol and benzodiazepines like Valium (diazepam).
  • Abnormal heart rhythm: Methadone is linked to the side effect of abnormal heart rhythm, which can be serious.
  • Overdose: Overdose can happen by accidentally taking one dose, abuse, drug interactions, when initiating treatment, and increasing the dose. Accidental ingestion of Methadose, especially by children, can result in a fatal overdose. Overdose might happen if a high-strength and dispersible (soluble) methadone tablet isn’t mixed with 120 milliliters before taking it. An overdose can also happen if methadone is taken with CYP3A4, 2B6, 2C19, 2C9, or 2D6 inhibitor drugs or discontinuation of CYP3A4, 2B6, 2C19, or 2C9 inducers after taking them together. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you are unsure if you take any of these medications.
  • Opioid use disorder: As a Schedule II controlled medication, methadone is linked to a higher risk of developing opioid use disorder.
  • Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS): Methadone use during pregnancy can result in NOWS, a potentially life-threatening condition in the newborn infant. Your healthcare provider will weigh the risks of NOWS and the benefits of methadone use during pregnancy based on your underlying condition.

Methadone is also linked to the following severe side effects:

  • Adrenal insufficiency: In adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), the adrenal glands—small organs sitting on top of the kidneys—aren’t making enough cortisol and sometimes aldosterone. Cortisol and aldosterone are naturally occurring hormones. If you have adrenal insufficiency, you might notice symptoms of dizziness, fainting, muscle weakness, joint pain, and mood changes. Some people might also experience low sexual desire (libido), erectile dysfunction (ED), absence of menstrual periods, or infertility.
  • Serotonin syndrome: Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical. Too much serotonin, however, can lead to a rare but life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include seizures, sweating, and tremors.

Methadone can also cause excessive drowsiness or sleepiness and extremely low blood pressure.

If you experience any of these severe side effects, get medical help right away.

Long-Term Side Effects

With Methadose being a Schedule II controlled substance, long-term use of this medication raises your risk of opioid use disorder. Suddenly stopping long-term methadone, on the other hand, can result in withdrawal symptoms.

In addition to opioid use disorder and withdrawal symptoms, long-term Methadose use may damage your nerves, liver, and brain. Long-term Methadose use is also linked to adrenal insufficiency and negative effects on fertility.

Long-term use of methadone during pregnancy raises the likelihood of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS). Although NOWS is a life-threatening condition in newborns, it’s treatable.

Report Side Effects

Methadose may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Methadose Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):

    • For pain:

      • For patients taking Dolophine® as the first pain medicine:

        • Adults—At first, 2.5 milligrams (mg) every 8 to 12 hours. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. Do not take more than your prescribed dose in 24 hours.
        • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
      • For patients switching from other opioids to Dolophine®:

        • Adults—The dose must be determined by your doctor based on the previous dose of opioid medicine. The dose is given every 8 or 12 hours. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. Do not take more than your prescribed dose in 24 hours.
        • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For opioid addiction:

      • Adults—At first, 20 to 30 milligrams (mg) taken as a single dose per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 40 mg per day. Do not take more than your prescribed dose in 24 hours.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • For oral dosage form (liquid):

    • For opioid addiction:

      • Adults—At first, 20 to 30 milligrams (mg) taken as a single dose per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 40 mg per day. Do not take more than your prescribed dose in 24 hours.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.


In some individuals, the body may handle methadone differently. For this reason, your healthcare provider may choose to discontinue your methadone or modify your dosage depending on certain factors.


Long-term use of methadone during pregnancy raises the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), a life-threatening but treatable condition in newborns.

If a newborn has NOWS, the baby might have the following symptoms: irritability, tremors, abnormal sleep patterns, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your baby might also have problems with gaining weight. If you notice these symptoms in your baby, get medical help immediately.

Although NOWS is an expected side effect of long-term methadone use during pregnancy, NOWS is treatable. Not treating opioid use disorder during pregnancy, on the other hand, is linked to preterm birth—with the newborn having a low birth weight. In some cases, untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can result in fetal death.


While only a low amount of methadone is present in breast milk, there are rare reports of nursing babies experiencing drowsiness, sleepiness, and extremely slow breathing. Therefore, your healthcare provider will want to monitor your baby for these side effects.

Adults Age 65 and Older

While there have been no reported differences between younger adults and adults 65 and older, your healthcare provider may take your age into account when determining your initial dosage, especially if you have decreased liver, kidney, or heart function or other medical considerations.

Liver and Kidney Impairment

People with decreased liver or kidney functioning may need to start on a lower dose of methadone.

Missed Dose

If you’re taking Methadose for pain, take your missed dose as soon as you remember. If it’s already close to your next scheduled dosing time, however, then skip the missed dose and take the following dose at the next scheduled time.

If you missed a Methadose dose for opioid use disorder, however, then skip this missed dose. Take the following dose at the next scheduled dosing time.

Don’t double up and take more methadone to make up for missed doses. Also, try to find ways to consistently remember to take your medication. Missing too many Methadose doses can lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Methadose?

If you accidentally take too much Methadose, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Coma
  • Extremely slow breathing
  • Limp muscles
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow heart rate
  • Small and pinpoint pupils

If you’re experiencing symptoms of an overdose, use your naloxone medication to reverse the effects of methadone. Your loved ones might need to help you with this.

Then, call 911 right away. While waiting for emergency help, your symptoms might come back. If necessary, naloxone can be used every two to three minutes. Since there are different naloxone products, talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more detailed directions.

What Happens If I Overdose on Methadose?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Methadose, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Methadose, call 911 immediately.


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It is very important that your doctor check your progress while you are taking this medicine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it.

Do not use this medicine if you are using or have used an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) (eg, isocarboxazid [Marplan®], linezolid [Zyvox®], phenelzine [Nardil®], selegiline [Eldepryl®], tranylcypromine [Parnate®]) within the past 14 days.

This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, other prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for anxiety or benzodiazepines, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics (numbing medicines), including some dental anesthetics. This effect may last for a few days after you stop using this medicine. Check with your doctor before taking any of the other medicines listed above while you are using this medicine.

This medicine may be habit-forming. If you feel that the medicine is not working as well, do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor for instructions.

Using narcotics for a long time can cause severe constipation. To prevent this, your doctor may direct you to take laxatives, drink a lot of fluids, or increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, because continuing constipation can lead to more serious problems.

If you think you or someone else may have taken an overdose of this medicine, get emergency help at once. Your doctor may also give naloxone to treat an overdose. Signs of an overdose include: change or loss of consciousness, cold, clammy skin, coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum, decreased awareness or responsiveness, extreme dizziness or weakness, increased sweating, irregular, fast, or slow, or shallow breathing, pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin, sleepiness or unusual drowsiness, slow heartbeat, seizures, swelling in legs and ankles, or trouble breathing. Call your doctor right away if you notice these symptoms.

This medicine may cause sleep-related breathing problems (eg, sleep apnea, sleep-related hypoxemia). Your doctor may decrease your dose if you have sleep apnea (stop breathing for short periods during sleep) while using this medicine.

Contact your doctor right away if you have any changes to your heart rhythm. You might feel dizzy or faint, or you might have a fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat. Make sure your doctor knows if you or anyone in your family has ever had a heart rhythm problem including QT prolongation.

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help lessen this problem. Also, lying down for a while may relieve dizziness or lightheadedness.

If you have been using this medicine regularly for several weeks or longer, do not change your dose or suddenly stop using it without checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This may help prevent worsening of your condition and reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, such as stomach cramps, anxiety, fever, nausea, restlessness, runny nose, sweating, tremors, or trouble sleeping.

This medicine may cause adrenal gland problems. Check with your doctor right away if you have darkening of the skin, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, loss of appetite, mental depression, nausea, skin rash, unusual tiredness or weakness, or vomiting.

Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. This medicine may affect the results of certain medical tests.

This medicine may make you dizzy, drowsy, or lightheaded. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant may cause serious unwanted effects, including neonatal withdrawal syndrome in your newborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you think you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.

Check with your doctor right away if you have anxiety, restlessness, a fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, muscle spasms, twitching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or see or hear things that are not there. These may be symptoms of a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Your risk may be higher if you also take certain other medicines that affect serotonin levels in your body.

Using too much of this medicine may cause infertility (unable to have children). Talk with your doctor before using this medicine if you plan to have children.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal (eg, St. John's wort) or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Methadose?

Don’t take Methadose if you have the following:

  • Blockage or narrowing of your stomach or intestines
  • Severe asthma or asthma flare-up without direct supervision from your healthcare provider
  • Severely slow breathing rate
  • Severe allergic reaction to methadone or its components

What Other Medications Interact With Methadose?

Use caution with the following medications when taking Methadose:

CYP450-Inhibiting Medications

CYP450 enzymes are proteins in the liver. These proteins help break down and clear out some medications—like methadone—from the body. CYP450-inhibiting medications—like the erythromycin antibiotic—block these proteins from working as well. So, there will be higher amounts of methadone in the body that can raise the likelihood of side effects.

CYP450-Inducing Medications

CYP450-inducing medications—like carbamazepine for seizures—encourage CYP450 enzymes to break down methadone quickly. With a small amount of methadone in the body, methadone is less effective at relieving pain or preventing withdrawal symptoms.

Medications That Affect Heart Rhythm

Cardizem (diltiazem) is an example of a medication that affects heart rhythm. Combining diltiazem or similar medications with methadone is linked to serious side effects of abnormal heart rhythm.

CNS Depressants

CNS depressants—like alcohol or Valium (diazepam)—suppress (slow down) the CNS. Combining these medications with methadone raises your risk of the following serious side effects:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow breathing rate
  • Severe drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Coma

Mixed Agonist/Antagonist and Partial Agonist Opioids

Mixed agonist/antagonist and partial agonist opioids don’t work the same way as full agonist opioids, such as methadone. In fact, mixed agonist/antagonist and partial agonist opioids can slightly work against a full agonist opioid—like methadone. So, taking mixed agonist/antagonist and partial agonist opioids—like buprenorphine—can cause withdrawal symptoms.


Combining an MAOI with methadone raises your risk of serotonin syndrome, a rare but life-threatening condition. An example MAOI is selegiline, which is used for depression and Parkinson's disease.

This is not a complete list of possible medication interactions with methadone. For more detailed information, speak with your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

What Medications Are Similar?

There are many available medication options to relieve pain. With methadone being an opioid, the following are some examples of other opioid medications:

Compared with most opioids, methadone is one of the longest-acting medications. Methadone usually works well at smaller and less frequent doses. However, it is still an opioid medication posing a risk of developing opioid use disorder.

Since all of these medications are opioids, they are also CNS depressants that suppress (slow down) the CNS. Combining multiple CNS depressants can raise the likelihood of the following serious side effects:

  • Extremely slow breathing rate
  • Excessive drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Coma

Although healthcare providers might prescribe more than one opioid for your symptoms, many try to limit combining multiple opioids. If you have any questions or concerns, speak with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is Methadose available?

    For pain, Methadose is available as a prescription from your healthcare provider. For local retail pharmacies to fill methadone in some states, your healthcare provider must use special paper for your Methadose prescription.

    For detoxification or maintenance treatment of opioid use disorder, only certified opioid treatment programs can fill and give methadone to you.

  • How much does Methadose cost?

    Methadose is available as a generic medication, which can be a more affordable option for some.

    If you’re receiving methadone for opioid use disorder, however, the detoxification or maintenance program can be expensive.

    The Department of Defense (DOD) estimates the cost is $126 per week or $6,552 per year for a program that includes methadone medication, daily visits, and mental and health support services. Insurance, however, might help cover the cost.

  • What if Methadose doesn’t work for me?

    How quickly Methadose works can vary by person. You might notice some effect within two to four hours, but methadone typically takes three to five days for full effectiveness. For some people, however, methadone might take longer than three to five days to reach full effectiveness.

    Don’t take more or suddenly stop taking methadone without talking to your healthcare provider first. Keep your healthcare provider informed so they can make dosing adjustments based on your symptoms and side effects.

  • Can I drink alcohol with Methadose?

    Like alcohol, Methadose is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that suppresses (slows down) the CNS. Combining multiple CNS depressants isn't recommended due to a higher risk of serious side effects.

  • Can I develop an addiction to Methadose?

    While Methadose is a long-acting opioid used for opioid use disorder, it still carries a risk of developing opioid use disorder. If you notice the following symptoms, notify your healthcare provider, or get medical help right away:

    • Abnormal or uncontrolled muscle movements
    • Appetite changes
    • Behavioral changes
    • Coma
    • Mood changes—like aggression or anxiety
    • Vision changes

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Methadose?

Living with pain can be difficult. Work with your healthcare provider to establish reasonable and attainable goals.

In addition to taking Methadose or other medications to relieve pain, your healthcare provider can recommend other strategies that may help. Some recommendations may include:

Addressing opioid use disorder is no small feat. In addition to taking Methadose as part of the detoxification or maintenance program, consider the following general tips:

  • Participate in counseling or therapy with a professional therapist or licensed drug counselor.
  • Consider talking with a mental health professional to help you develop coping skills that can change how you think, feel, or react to living with opioid use disorder.
  • Participate in support groups. Having a strong support network is important.
  • Create a regular schedule that also includes routine exercise.
  • Find ways to relax and destress. Yoga is a potential option.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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