What is Methadone?

What is Methadone? Methadone is one of a number of synthetic opiates (also called opioids) that are manufactured for medical use and have similar effects to heroin. Methadone and Subutex (Buprenorphine) are used as opiate substitutes for heroin in the treatment of heroin addiction.

Just the word Methadone can spark strong emotions in some people. There are those who praise it for its use in addiction treatment and others who curse it as a Government sponsored drug abuse program. Methadone is a synthetic (man-made) narcotic. It is used legally to treat addiction to narcotics and to relieve severe pain, often in individuals who have cancer or terminal illnesses. Although Methadone has been legally available in the United States since 1947, more recently it has emerged as a drug of abuse.

Street names for Methadone can vary around the country. Some of the more popular terms for this drug are:

  • Mixture
  • Methadose
  • Dollies
  • Fizzies
  • Linctus
  • Physeptone
  • Amidone
  • Wafer
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies (MDMA combined with Heroin or Methadone)

What is Methadone and its' effects on the user? Opiates, such as Methadone, are sedative drugs that depress the nervous system. They slow down body functioning and reduce physical and psychological pain. The effect is usually to give a feeling of warmth, relaxation and detachment. Methadone is known to relieve feelings of anxiety.

Methadone doesn't deliver the same degree of buzz or high as heroin. It allows people to tackle their psychological addiction and stabilize their lifestyle when used as a substitute for heroin. Such treatment may be continued for a long period of time in some cases.

Individuals who abuse Methadone risk becoming tolerant of and physically dependent on the drug. When these individuals stop using the drug they may experience withdrawal symptoms including muscle tremors, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.

Overdosing on Methadone poses an additional risk. In some instances, individuals who abuse other narcotics (such as Heroin or OxyContin) turn to Methadone because of its increasing availability. Methadone, however, does not produce the euphoric rush associated with those other drugs; thus, these users often consume dangerously large quantities of Methadone in a vain attempt to attain the desired effect.

Methadone overdoses are associated with severe respiratory depression, decreases in heart rate and blood pressure, coma, and death. The Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that Methadone was involved in 10,725 emergency department visits in 2001- a 37 percent increase from the previous year.

Most common side effects of Methadone include: drowsiness, lightheadedness, weakness, euphoria, dry mouth, urinary retention, constipation, and slow or troubled breathing. Occasional side effects include allergic reactions: skin rash, hives, itching, headache, dizziness, impaired concentration, sensation of drunkenness, confusion, depression, blurred or double vision, facial flushing, sweating, heart palpitation, nausea and vomiting. Least common side effects: anaphylactic reactions, hypotension causing weakness and fainting, disorientation, hallucinations, unstable gait, tremor, muscle twitching, kidney failure, seizures, drowsiness, confusion, tremors, convulsions, stupor leading to coma, cold and clammy skin, hypotension, and bradycardia.

What is Methadone treatment? In Methadone treatment (opiate substitution therapy), such as Methadone and Buprenorphine, the initial goal is obliterating withdrawal symptoms and supporting stabilization of health and lifestyle. The dose can subsequently be reduced slowly by agreement until the user is off the drug completely. There are still problems with heroin withdrawal symptoms, but this method is much less severe than going 'cold turkey'.

Methadone addiction is a serious problem for many individuals who want to use the drug to withdrawal from heroin. A serious problem with Methadone prescriptions in the past was that heroin addicts were often given sufficient Methadone to last one week - or even one month. As a result, Methadone addicts commonly sold their prescribed Methadone in the illicit drug market. Schoolchildren have been found in possession of this drug and several have died. It is more common practice today to require Methadone addicts on Methadone maintenance programs to collect their prescription from a clinic or pharmacy daily - and to swallow this under observation. This is to prevent Methadone from entering the illicit market.

What is Methadone appearance, what does it look like? The Methadone that's prescribed to people trying to come off 'street' heroin is usually a liquid which is swallowed, but it can come in tablet or injectable form. Methadone has several different appearances: liquid mixture, orange, yellow, green or clear; tablets, and ampoules for injection.

When pharmaceutically pure, Methadone comes in a variety of strengths. Methadone is usually administered orally and as such is rapidly absorbed. Methadone is metabolized primarily in the liver. When you take Methadone it first must be metabolized in the liver to a product that your body can use. Excess Methadone is also stored in the liver and blood stream and this is how Methadone works its' time release process and lasts for 24 hours or more. Oral Methadone is very different than the IV Methadone. Oral Methadone is partially stored in the liver for later use. IV Methadone acts more like heroin.

Effects can start quickly and can last several hours. Methadone that's prescribed by a doctor is subject to stringent controls, as with any other medicine, so you can be sure of its strength and that it has not been tampered with. However, you can't be as sure with Methadone that's bought on the street which may be an unusually concentrated variant and more powerful than expected.

Some people are sick the first time they take it and they can become constipated. With high doses, the sedation dominates and users feel sleepy. Too much and you can fall into a coma or stop breathing completely. Many women don't have periods when they use opiates regularly. If they cut down, or stop, the periods may return. There's a good chance of getting pregnant during this time if they don't use contraception.

Opiates may possibly increase the risk of miscarriage and still births and opiate users may give birth to smaller babies. It's not a good idea to stop using opiates suddenly if you're pregnant as this can cause premature labor and miscarriage. Methadone may be continued throughout pregnancy to minimize such risk.



  • Individuals who abuse heroin tend to find it hard to concentrate.

  • 14% of all ER visits are due to heroin use.

  • Individuals who have never used the so called .gate way drugs. are less likely to try heroin then others who have used .gate way drugs.

  • The age of first time heroin users has gotten increasingly lower, with more than 80% of them under the age of 26.

  • Heroin use symptoms may lead to liver disease, heart ailments and blood pressure issues.

  • A heroin users can become extremely depressed due to the fact that their body has become dependent on the pleasurable feeling from heroin.

  • Mexican Brown is one of the most common street names for heroin.

  • Heroin has been estimated to be one of the most addictive substances created.

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