Methadone Vs Oxycodone
Health Uncategorized

Methadone vs Oxycodone

Methadone whose generic variant is methadone and Oxycodone with the generic name oxycodone belong to the family of opioids which are strong drugs and help in reducing long-lasting pain.  Methadone is a very strong pain reliever and doctors use this medication to treat patients addicted to heroin and related opioids. Oxycodone is a controlled substance Schedule II drug, meaning it can cause serious consequences like drug dependence and other harmful effects.

As there is a high risk of addiction, misuse and abuse while taking these opioid drugs, it is better to discuss with a doctor regarding the benefits and threats before using these drugs.

In this article, we will discuss the uses, side effects, doses, and precautions needed while taking Methadone and Oxycodone drugs.

Differences Between Methadone Vs Oxycodone Drugs

1) What is Methadone?

Methadone is used in treatment of lasting pain and used to decrease withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other related narcotic drugs. It should only be used for pain that is severe enough and requires an urgent, around-the-clock attention when no other healthcare options have been effective adequately.

This medications functions by increasing the rate of opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system. This may decrease withdrawal symptoms, which is quite important as withdrawal symptoms can be the reason for coming back to opioid use. 

2) What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone, native to the family of opioids is used to treat severe to moderate pain, for example after an operation or a serious injury, or pain from cancer. When non-opioid pain medications do not provide relief then Oxycodone is helpful in relieving the pain. 

The drug is available in immediate-release or extended-release forms. The immediate-release tablets, capsules, and oral solution are meant for short term pain. The extended-release form of Oxycodone is meant to treat around-the-clock (ATC) severe, long-lasting pain, and should be used only when this pain is causing high discomfort.

Feeling of calm and euphoria are common effects experienced on using this drug which can impact the brain, and this can make it highly potent for its abuse. Extended use of Oxycodone containing acetaminophen is likely to cause severe liver damage.

3) Mechanism of Working

a) Methadone

Methadone belongs to the family of drugs called opioid which acts by binding of the drug to receptors or opioid receptors in the brain. Being a full agonist of opioid receptors, Methadone interacts with all three receptors but slowly and more gradually to prevent the craving associated with opioid addiction. It assists to ensure that there is regular and adequate amount of substance present in the body at all times.

By occupying these receptors, methadone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids, which helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Its long half-life means it can be taken once daily, providing a stable effect over 24 hours.

b) Oxycodone

Oxycodone belongs to one of the groups of drugs known as opioid, or narcotics. It functions by inhibiting pain signals from the central nervous system and the brain to the remaining parts of the body. 

It is more helpful in cases when non opioid painkillers prove ineffective. The opioid receptors are located in different parts of the central nervous system (CNS) including the brain and spinal cord. By binding to these receptors, Oxycodone inhibits the transmission of pain signals, resulting in pain relief.

4) Uses: Methadone Vs Oxycodone

a) Methadone

  • Opioid Dependence Treatment: Methadone is used in treating opioid-addicted patients. It lessens withdrawal effects and urges, which enable patients to concentrate on their rehabilitation and assimilation processes.
  • Chronic Pain Management: Methadone is also taken to relieve cancer pain and other severe chronic pain in individuals who have become tolerant to other opioids. Due to its sustained release capability, it is a better option for providing adequate pain relief.

b) Oxycodone

  • Oxycodone is an opioid drug used to treat moderate to severe pain when other painkillers are not able to provide enough comfort from pain.
  • Oxycodone works individually, i.e., as a single-ingredient pain reliever (Oxycontin, Roxicodone), and is also available in combination with acetaminophen (Percocet).

Methadone Vs Oxycodone:Dosage Strength and Doses

Doses differ for different people, and Methadone can lead to serious effects in those people who are not used to high painkiller doses. Make sure to store these drugs in a safe and secure location to prevent from others reaching them.

a) Methadone

Methadone is available in tablets, solution, concentrate, and injectable solution for oral administration only.

  • Oral tablets are available in strengths of 5 mg, 10 mg, and 40 mg. The 40 mg tablets are typically used only in opioid addiction treatments.
  • Oral solution (Methadone liquid) is available in concentrations such as 1 mg/mL, 2 mg/mL, and 10 mg/mL. This form allows for precise dosing adjustments.
  • Oral concentrate comes in 10 mg/mL dosage, which can be diluted before administration.

The initial dose is mostly in the form of 20 to 30 mg, which can require regular monitoring. Lowest effective dose is recommended which can ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings without causing sedation.

The dose can be adjusted in increments of 5 to 10 mg to find a stable maintenance dose. This typically ranges between 60 to 120 mg per day, though some patients may require higher or lower doses. 

Once the appropriate dose is determined, patients can continue their daily suggested dose. Regular follow-ups and adjustments are vital to monitor progress in their recovery.

b) Oxycodone

Oxycodone is available in tablet, capsule, and oral solution formulations.

  • Immediate-release tablets oxycodone 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg strengths.
  • Immediate-release capsules oxycodone 5 mg strength. 
  • Immediate-release oral solution oxycodone 5 mg per 5 mL (1 mg/mL), 100 mg per 5 mL (20 mg/mL).
  • Extended release tablets come in 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg and 80 mg strengths. 
  • Oral solution is available in 5 mg / 5 ml strength, and oral concentrate is available in 100 mg/5 mL strength.

Tablets are to be taken complete, crushing and chewing should be avoided before taking these tablets in the mouth.

For acute pain, the initial recommended dose of Oxycodone is in the range of 5 to 15 mg, every 4 to 6 hours as needed. Further dosage may depend on the pain control and potential side effects.

For chronic pain, the initial recommended dose of Oxycodone is in the range of 2.5 to 10 mg, every 4 to 6 hours as needed. The medicine should be taken regularly or at regular intervals to avoid the pain coming back again.

6) Effectiveness

a) Methadone

The effect of this drug starts 30 minutes after swallowing and it may remain till three hours in the body. As the half-life of Methadone is nearly 15 hours the analgesic effect on repeated doses can range from 8 to 12 hours.

b) Oxycodone

Standard oxycodone, i.e., immediate-release form takes 30 to 60 minutes to work, but this can wear off after 4 to 6 hours.

Slow-release oxycodone, i.e., extended-release form can take 1 to 2 days to work fully, but the pain relief will last longer.

Common Side Effects of Methadone and Oxycodone Drugs

  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Increased perspiration
  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the medicine was injected.

Severe Side Effects of Methadone and Oxycodone Drugs

  • Weak or shallow breathing, breathing that stops during sleep
  • Slow heart rate or weak pulse
  • Serotonin syndrome-agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, loss of coordination, nausea, diarrhea, and so on.
  • Unusual thoughts or behavior
  • Low cortisol levels-nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness

Precautions and Safety Measures

1) Misuse and addiction warning

Methadone and Oxycodone both belonging to category of Schedule II drug, even when used with precautions, are easy to get addicted to. This may lead them to drug misuse and can increase the dangers of overdose and death in certain people.

2) Breathing problems 

Use of opioids for a long time, such as Methadone, have resulted in breathing problems in some individuals. This can happen at any time of the treatment. The risks are high when the dose is taken in the initial stage, and on gradual increase of the dose. In older patients, this risks remain quite high.

3) Overdose in children

Even one dose if taken accidentally, especially in children, can result in a fatal overdose of oxycodone and this overdosing can lead to death.

4) Use of Methadone with other drugs

Use of Methadone with other drugs that affect the nervous systems known as benzodiazepines, may cause breathing problems, severe drowsiness, coma, or even death.

5) People with gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction

Use of the drug can result in constipation and increase your risk of a GI obstruction. People with a history of GI obstruction, should discuss with doctor if the drug is safe to use.

6) Using opioid medicines with alcohol, or with other drugs that induce drowsiness or slowing of the breathing can lead to fatal side-effects. Oxycodone is one such drug that can slow the breathing and this is more seen in elderly or serious ill patients.

Unique Treatments For Managing Muscle And Back Pain


In the above blog, we have seen that both Methadone and Oxycodone medications are recommended by doctors, for moderate to severe pain in patients. 

Methadone and Oxycodone are potent medications and should be used under the guidance of a doctor to ensure safe and effective pain control. As these drugs are prescription medicines, so an overdose of these can lead to fatal health condition.

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