How We Use Methadone for Pain Management

Mention methadone and many people think of ‘methadone clinic’.  But the real story is that methadone is a low cost, highly effective pain medication.  At Denali Healthcare, we use methadone as a scheduled medication for baseline pain control.

Reasons We Use Methadone For Pain Management

  1. Methadone is a long acting narcotic with a ‘half life’ of about 9 hours compared to 4 hours for Vicodin.  This means it is a much smoother level of pain control with fewer doses during the day.  This avoids the up and down ‘roller coaster’ effect of the short acting narcotics.
  2. Methadone does not contain Tylenol, as many of the short acting narcotics do.  This is easier on the liver.
  3. Methadone has no ‘active metabolites’.  When it is broken down by the liver, it is gone.  Other medications are broken down by the liver to a product that is also a pain medication itself, the liver must then break THAT medicine down two on a ‘second pass’.  The effects of methadone are more predictable.
  4. Methadone costs about $30-50 a month compared to well over $350 for drugs like Oxycontin or Duragesic.  Many of our patients pay for their medicines out of their own pockets, and this makes the difference between affording the medicine vs making choices between food, shelter and medicine.  We care, so we know about these costs and plan accordingly.
  5. The average dose of methadone given by Denali ranges from 15 to 40 mg per day.  It is VERY rare we exceed this range.