Methadone can cause changes in brain chemistry that alter sleep regulation. In other words, both the amount and quality of sleep can become shorter and less efficient after methadone abuse. Chronic methadone abuse can often result in insomnia, which can lead to a host of problems.
Severe sleep deprivation and methadone abuse can pose numerous overall health risks, including the following:
- Slowed reaction times and decreased brain functioning – Sleep deprivation interferes with cognitive processing, which results in slower reaction times and a lack of alertness. Forgetfulness and confusion are often side effects of severe sleep deprivation and methadone abuse.
Even short-term methadone misuse can cause slower reaction times that may lead to accidents or injury. Long-term methadone abuse can damage parts of the brain that are responsible for learning and memory.
- Mood changes – Opioid drugs can lead to mood changes. These commonly include apathy, irritability, and even anger. Lack of quality sleep may cause similar effects. These mood changes can impact work performance and relationships. Lower sleep levels cause poor mood, irritability, and poor decision making.
- Unhealthy lifestyle – Lack of sleep often leads to appetite changes, while exhaustion limits the desire and time to make healthy meals. All of these changes usually result in unhealthy food choices, missed meals, and obesity or decreased muscle mass. Low energy levels cause a decrease in healthy activities, such as exercising, being with friends and participating in hobbies.
- Diseases, infections, and viruses – Lack of quality sleep combined with an opioid drug can weaken the immune system, which poses a higher risk of various illnesses. Continuing methadone misuse while sick can prolong illnesses.
- Physical risks of sleep deprivation – The chances of heart attack and stroke are significantly increased by sleep deprivation. Many people experience higher blood pressure with poor sleep over time which increases the chance of clogged arteries. The risk of life threatening situations, such as automobile accidents, is increased due to the lack of response time caused by sleep deprivation.
Sleep Problems Associated with Methadone Use
Many of these health risks can be life threatening and have long-lasting effects on a person’s overall wellbeing. Neurochemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, that help to regulate sleep can be negatively affected by methadone abuse.
- Circadian rhythm disorder
- Sleep apnea
- Movement disorders
Misuse of methadone can cause severe physical and psychological health problems that require professional help to overcome.
Treatment for Methadone Addiction
Methadone dependence is the same, whether you began using methadone as a treatment for opioid addiction, or if you began abusing methadone recreationally. Once this drug has become part of your life, it can be difficult to make a change without some support.
The treatment team at The Canyon offer evidence-based, specialized treatment to help you (or someone you love) gain a full recovery and the tools to stay clean and sober for good. Call us at 877-345-3299 to learn how we can help you find healing.
By Kathryn Millán, LPC/MHSP, Contributing Writer