Side Effects of Methadone and Suboxone: Constipation

When I ask my patients about side effects of methadone and buprenorphine (active ingredient in Suboxone and Subutex), the most common one they report is constipation. Nearly all people on any opioids have constipation. This is because the bowels contain opioid receptors, and when they are stimulated with opioids, the bowels relax and don’t contract as much.

So what can be done?

Of course, drinking more fluids will help. Then, try adding more fiber to your diet. Either eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, or get some of the fiber-containing agents. Some brand names include FiberCon, Metamucil, and Citrucel.

If that doesn’t get things moving, try adding a stool softener. If no results after all of these, consider trying the Miralax powder. Some people need to take it on a regular basis to keep their bowels moving. Some patients use a teaspoon of mineral oil every morning to keep them moving.

It’s a good idea to see a primary care or gastrointestinal doctor at least once, to rule out causes other than medication. If you have blood in your stool, weight loss, or a family history of colon cancer, we don’t want to ignore the possibility that something more serious could be causing bowel problems.

And anyone over 50 years old is due for a colonoscopy, anyway. (They really aren’t too bad. I had one last year and it was fairly easy.)


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by db89g23 on July 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    And if you let it go for too long the last option: Enema (sold at every pharmacy). The thought of it is embarrassing, but it fixes the problem immediately.


  2. Posted by Matt on October 5, 2012 at 4:42 am

    no it doesnt, WTF are you on?
    ive been on and off subuxone and methadone for years now and the main reason i keep jumping on and off is the constipation. the doctors at my clinic refuse to believe that it is the suboxone so that kinda leaves me in square one,i try enamas but they only soften the very tip whis is really of no use to me. i am lucky to go to the toilet once a month, have blood and stool is rock hard,ive tried everything fruits prune jucie epson salts EVERYTHING! the only thing thati can do to relieve the pain is jump in the shower soap up my fingers and literaly dig out the stool which is extremely painfull and im sick of sitting on ballon cushons and feeling violated all the time. i have 2 options stay on the program and have my life watched big brother style and deal with this or forget the government CONTROLLED substance and continuing using my opiate of choice….. for quick pain relief ive found the only thing that works is a shot of my faviroute opiate.


    • Posted by tooembarrassedtosay on March 9, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      OMG! I thought I was the only one soaping up my fingers and fishing it out in the shower!!!! I recently bought a fiber supplement (no taste, no thickness) that you add to your drinks or soft foods. I don’t think I used it long enough to say whether it works or not. I also bought Citrucel which is a bulk forming fiber laxative. once I heard BULK-Forming I said wait a minute, I have too much bulk if you know what I mean. So I gotta reswarch what bulk forming laxative means first.
      Have you foung anything that worked for you yet?


  3. Posted by Jarred Mcnevin on November 3, 2012 at 5:03 am

    there are many ways to remedy constipation. the best way is still to take high fiber foods and take lots of fluids. ”

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    • Posted by savalast1973 on May 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Yes but we suffer from METHADONE CONSTIPATION. Normal remedies don’t usually work.


  4. Posted by tooembarrassedtosay on March 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Are you on an opiate? Such as methodone, suboxone, or anything that is a narcotic?


  5. Posted by savalast1973 on May 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Take a double dose of miralax for 3 days. Then use an enema bag and out up the whole bag of water or as much as you can. It will all come out. Do this 2x. If you take Miralax every day, you can use the bag each morning and you will clean out. A hassle, yes. But not going for a month??Toyally crazy!!


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