80% of people will relapse within a month if they are not in active treatment (counseling and medication).
As with any other drug, there are side effects to methadone. These side effects can impact both the body and mind, and they range from mild, such as dry mouth and lightheadedness, to more severe, such as lowered respiratory function.
There are also certain risks associated with prolonged use of methadone. A study in the journal Addiction and Health found that long-term use of methadone can cause cholestatic pattern liver injury, and other studies suggest that prolonged methadone use could contribute to reduced attention span. Additional evidence suggests that long-term methadone use could escalate into abuse, ultimately leading users back into a cycle of addiction from which they were initially attempting to escape.
Methadone is a full opioid agonist. This means that the drug binds to opioid receptors in the brain and activates them, creating a chemical reaction that leaves an individual vulnerable to dependence. Methadone is classified as a Schedule II substance in the United States; in other words, it is a medically accepted drug with a high potential for abuse.
The darker side of methadone has been revealed quite a bit in the 21st century. The CDC reported a 22 percent increase in methadone-related deaths each year between 2002 and 2006, and that number has only dropped 6 percent per year from 2006 to 2014. Recent estimates state that methadone abuse and accidental overdose account for up to 5,000 deaths each year. Though methadone can be a saving grace for many people, it seems to be a danger for many others.