Methadone, Hospice, and Pain Relief

Physicians often prescribe methadone for hospice patients because it is one of the most effective pain relief medications available. (Methadone is the generic name; brand names are Dolophine and Methadose.)

Why Use Methadone for Pain Relief?

Methadone causes fewer side effects than other opiate medications. Compared to patients who take morphine for pain relief, patients who take methadone typically experience less sleepiness and less nausea. In addition, it is:

  • proven to be very effective in controlling cancer pain and other types of chronic (long-standing) pain
  • less addictive than other strong pain medications
  • better absorbed and provides pain relief longer than other opiate medications

Is Methadone Safe?

Methadone is commonly known as a treatment for people with heroin addiction. Rest assured, your hospice care team has experience in using methadone to treat pain safely and effectively. However, it is still important to take it exactly as prescribed and only when directed. It is also important that only the hospice patient takes methadone. It should not be shared with anyone.

In addition, methadone:

  • May be part of the Comfort Pack your hospice nurse provides
  • Is available as a tablet (5 mg and 10 mg) and as a liquid
  • Can cause constipation, which is prevented by taking a laxative

If you have any difficulty with using methadone, be sure to let your hospice nurse or doctor know immediately. Methadone is very safe when taken as prescribed, under the supervision of your hospice team.

For more information, download our free patient guide today.

Are you caring for a family member or friend? Sign up for Caring Delivered, VNSNY’s free newsletter just for caregivers, and get the information you need.