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What is Methadone?

April 16, 2010 in Employee Drug Testing Information

Methadone mimics many of the effects of opiates such as heroin.

Methadone is one of a number of synthetic opiates (also called opioids) that are manufactured for medical use and have similar effects to heroin. These include dihydrocodeine (DF118s), pethidine (often used in childbirth), diconal, palfium and temgesic.

Methadone and subutex (buprenorphine) are used as substitutes for heroin in the treatment of heroin addiction.

Methadone mimics many of the effects of opiates such as heroin. However, there are many differences. For example, heroin produces an almost immediate “rush” or brief period of euphoria, which wears off relatively quickly, resulting in a strong craving to use more heroin. In contrast, methadone has a more gradual onset of action when administered orally. Its effects can last up to 24 hours, which allows the patient to take methadone only once a day without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Research has demonstrated that, when methadone is given in regular doses by a physician, it has the ability to block the euphoria caused by heroin if the individual does try to take heroin. Despite methadone’s role in the treatment of heroin addiction, it has addictive properties and also a high potential for abuse on the street. Methadone enters the illicit drug market primarily as a result of patients selling their prescriptions.

Methadone doesn’t deliver the same degree of buzz or high like heroin. It allows people to tackle their psychological addiction and stabilize their lifestyle when used as a substitute for heroin in treatment it stops withdrawal symptoms. Then the dose can be reduced slowly until that user is off the drug completely. When used to come off heroin there are still problems with withdrawal but there are much less severe than ‘cold turkey’ that occurs when stopping heroin.

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