Can Methadone Cause Weight Gain? Reasons and How to Deal with Changes

The body and the brain go through numerous changes during the process of drug abuse and recovery. One of them is a weight change. In this article, you will find an answer to the questions “What does methadone do to your body over time?” and “Does methadone make you gain weight?”

Methadone and Weight Gain

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is an important and extremely potent medication that is used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help people with opioid addiction. It’s a synthetic opioid that alleviates symptoms of withdrawal without producing feeling-good effects in the process of weaning off stronger opiates.

As with any prescribed medication, methadone has some side effects, such as:

  • Constipation
  • Sleep changes
  • Vision problems
  • Stomach pain
  • Flushing
  • Sexual problems
  • Mood changes
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Heavy sweating
  • Itchy skin
  • Restlessness
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight gain.

Those side effects could be extremely uncomfortable, but usually, they are not dangerous and should go away shortly. Through this, we recommend you contact your doctor.

Why Does Methadone Make You Gain Weight?

According to scientific research, BMI (body mass index) is indeed increasing over time, and it is independent of methadone dosage and its level in the blood. Expectedly, worse diet habits are related to a higher BMI. Does it mean that methadone is the medications that cause weight gain? In general, yes. But it’s important to understand that the main reason for putting in extra kilos is the normalizing of the patient’s metabolic processes in the body. Opioid use illuminates the appetite and interferes with nutrient absorption. Low body mass is a distinguishing feature of almost all people with drug addiction. Therapy just normalizes a patient’s health and weight.

But there are also other reasons why patients could face the weight gain methadone treatment:

Sugar Craving

Sweets activate the same receptors as opioids. Even after abstinence, people with long-term opioid addiction experience being drawn to sugar to activate the same hedonic mechanisms. As long as methadone is an opioid, it has the same mechanism, especially if it is used for a prolonged period.

Water Retention

Methadone is the medications that cause water retention in the body. This fact can also lead to your weight increasing. In cases of long-term treatment, patients can also be faced with edema of the limbs. Research shows that all symptoms resolve when methadone is discontinued.

Metabolism Slowing

Using methadone slows your metabolism. It means that your body burns fewer calories. The surplus will be stored in fat what cause weight gain. The good news is that you can maintain a good level of metabolism, providing a healthy lifestyle.

Alternative Treatments and Their Impact on Weight

Methadone is the most potent medication that is used for MAT, but there are also alternative treatments with different impacts on your weight gain.

  1. Suboxone is a combination of Buprenorphine (opioid) and Naloxone (opioid blocker). Suboxone is also used to treat opioid addiction. It causes less weight gain than methadone, but some weight gain is still possible.
  2. Naltrexone is an opioid blocker that is used to treat alcohol addiction as well. The medication doesn’t cause weight gain.

Comparison of Weight Gain Potential

TreatmentWeight Gain Risk

How to Manage Your Weight While on Methadone?

The main idea is to provide a healthier lifestyle. It helps you to control your weight and feel better during your recovery.

  • Take five meals a day. Eat in two- or three-hour intervals.
  • Avoid high-carbohydrate foods and sugar. If the demand for sugar is very high, try to substitute it with stevia.
  • Eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables. In a perfect scenario, they have to compose half of the whole amount of food consumed.
  • Give preference to a high-protein diet. It helps you maintain a higher metabolism.
  • Plan your menu. It’s especially important if your eating habits weren’t very healthy before. Make a plan for what you are going to eat at least one week ahead.
  • Keep a drinking regime, drinking plenty of water helps to rinse away toxins accumulated during addiction.
  • Start to provide regular exercises or try a new workout routine. It helps you to generate dopamine, control body weight, and provide better sleep.

Seeking Professional Medication-Assisted Treatment

Successful methadone treatment involves taking care of all aspects of patient health. Professional supervision will help to eliminate or reduce the side effects of MAT, including problems caused by methadone and weight gain. If you still have doubts regarding the question “Does methadone cause weight gain?” Contact a methadone clinic near you to have a personal consultation free of charge.