Compare methadone vs. naloxone

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.


Methadose (methadone)

Prescription only

Narcan (naloxone)

Prescription only
Treats severe pain or drug dependence.

Methadose (methadone) is a cheap and effective treatment for severe chronic pain, but has serious risks for fatal overdose and drug dependence.

Helps people breathe during an opioid overdose.

Narcan (naloxone) is used in an emergency if you think someone has overdosed on opioids. It only works for a few minutes and you'll need to call for emergency help.

  • Available as a cheap, generic version.
  • One of the stronger opioid medicines for treatment of severe pain.
  • Can also be used to treat opioid dependence as part of a complete recovery program.
  • Can help save the life of someone who has overdosed on opioid drugs.
  • One brand of Narcan (naloxone) comes as a take-home auto-injection system with voice directions that talk you through giving Narcan (naloxone) in an emergency situation.
  • Methadose (methadone) can cause slowed breathing, coma, and death from overdose, especially if mixed with alcohol, sleeping pills, or muscle relaxants.
  • Constipation is a common side effect of Methadose (methadone) and you might need laxatives or stool softeners.
  • Not a good option for short-term pain relief.
  • Narcan (naloxone) is to be given right away and does not take the place of emergency medical care. Get emergency medical help right away after the first dose, even if the person wakes up.
  • Repeat dosing of Narcan (naloxone) may be required in some cases where the opioid hangs around in the body for a long time.
  • Narcan (naloxone) can cause acute withdrawal symptoms (body aches, anxiety, sweating, vomiting, fast breathing, shivering) if the person has been using opioids regularly.
Used for
  • Opioid overdose
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Injection
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Side effects
The Methadose (methadone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The Narcan (naloxone) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Death from lack of oxygen to the body (respiratory depression)
    • Start of treatment
    • Age 65 or greater
    • Dose changes and higher doses
  • Heart problems (arrhythmia)
    • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Driving impairment
    • Taking Methadose (methadone) with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Death from overdose
    • Children age 18 and younger
    • Taking more than prescribed dose
    • Mixing with alcohol or drugs that interact with Methadose (methadone)
  • Abuse, tolerance, and addiction
    • Taking more than the prescribed dose
    • Long-term use
    • History of drug abuse or mental illness
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Acute opioid withdrawal
    • Regular use of opioids
  • Heart and lung problems
    • History of heart problems
    • Taking medications that affect the heart
  • Seizures
    • History of seizures
    • Meperidine use
See more detailed risks and warnings