The Methadone Overdose Epidemic: What Is Causing It and What’s to Be Done

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The methadone overdose epidemic is a serious crisis in the United States today. If you are suffering from an opioid abuse disorder––or know someone who is––now is the time to seek help. Call 800-584-3274 today to speak with a treatment advisor about safe, effective rehab.

How Serious Is Methadone Overdose in the U.S.?

Methadone Overdose Epidemic

Methadone is one of the most easily accessible opiate drugs in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, methadone is among the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdoses, also including oxycodone products and hydrocodone products. Between the years of 2014 and 2015, at least 8 known states saw an increase in methadone overdose deaths, and in the United States overall, the number of methadone overdose deaths per 100,0000 population rose from 1.0 to 1.1.

The drug contributed to nearly 1 in 3 prescription painkiller deaths in the year 2009, and while this number has since dropped to 1 in 4, the issue is still extremely significant (CDC). It is important that we not only understand what is causing this serious epidemic but that we also understand what must be done to fight it.

What Is Causing the Methadone Overdose Epidemic?

According to the CDC, one of the main causes for this severe methadone overdose issue is the way the drug is commonly used to treat pain. Methadone is an extremely potent, long-acting opioid drug, and for this reason, it has been placed in the Schedule II drug category by the Drug Enforcement Administration. This means there is a severe risk of abuse associated with this drug. Still, many doctors will prescribe it as a pain medication against the DEA’s recommendations.

Those enrolled in Medicaid are also more likely to receive methadone prescriptions because the program lists it as a preferred drug. This issue has also likely led to the high availability of methadone and then to the overdose epidemic. When people who do not need this medication are prescribed it, or when someone can take a less intense opioid instead of methadone and receives the drug anyway, it only leads to more severe effects.

The Dark and Dangerous Road to Opiate Overdose Treatment

What Is Being Done to Quell This Issue?

One way the government is working to fight methadone overdose is to ensure that fewer and fewer people are able to gain access to the drug as a pain treatment. There are a number of other less dangerous opioid painkillers available for this option, and as such, regulations have been put into place to minimize the use of methadone when it is not necessary.

Also, a voluntary restriction on manufacturing methadone and a public health advisory on the drug from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration led to a decrease in its overdose rates over the past few years. Still, while methadone accounted for only 1 percent of opioid prescriptions in the country in 2014, it also accounted for 23 percent of prescription opioid overdose deaths (CDC 3).

Seek Treatment Today

If you are suffering from methadone abuse and addiction, professional treatment will be necessary for your safe recovery. Call 800-584-3274 now to find rehab centers that will offer the treatment you need.


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