Several factors affect the dosage of methadone you are prescribed, such as other medications you are taking, how you respond to methadone, and whether it is being used for pain or addiction treatment. To prevent potentially serious complications, do not stop taking methadone or adjust your dose without your healthcare provider's approval and supervision.
The dose of methadone (Diskets®, Dolophine®, Methadose®) your healthcare provider recommends will vary, depending on a number of factors, including:
- Whether methadone is used for pain or addiction
- How you respond to the medication
- Other drugs you are taking (including nonprescription medicines)
- Other medical conditions you may have.
As is always the case, do not adjust this amount unless your healthcare provider specifically instructs you to do so.
For people who are not currently taking any opioid pain relievers, the starting recommended dosage of methadone is 2.5 mg to 10 mg every 8 to 12 hours, slowly increased to an effective amount.
If you are switching to methadone from other opioid pain relievers, your healthcare provider will use your current dosage of the opioids to calculate a starting methadone dosage. It is important to be honest about how much of the other opioid(s) you have been taking, even if it was more than prescribed, so that your healthcare provider will be able to accurately estimate an appropriate amount.
Your healthcare provider should monitor you closely when you first start taking methadone and any time your dose is increased, as deaths have occurred from overly aggressive methadone dosing. It is important to understand that the drug will build up in your system and will be slowly released from tissues, which means that it will often last longer and be more effective after you have been taking it for a while.
Because of changes in the way the body handles methadone during pregnancy, your healthcare provider may need to increase your dosage if you are pregnant (see Methadone and Pregnancy).