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FAQ About Methadone
methadone & methadone addiction
Where did methadone
How is methadone taken?
methadone's adverse reactions?
the symptoms of methadone overdose?
What is methadone
How much do we spend on methadone in the UK?
Hydrochloride is an opioid (a synthetic opiate) that was originally
synthesised by German pharmaceutical companies during the Second
It was first marketed as 'Dolophine' (possibly to honour Adolf
Hitler) and was used as an analgesic (a painkiller) for the
treatment of severe pain. It is still occasionally used for pain
Methadone is now primarily used today for the treatment of
narcotic addiction. The effects of methadone are longer-lasting than
those of morphine-based drugs. Methadone's effects can last up to 24
hours, thereby permitting administration only once a day in heroin
detoxification and maintenance programs.
Methadone is usually available as a liquid - linctus or methadone
mixture - which should be swallowed. Tablets and injectable ampoules
are sometimes prescribed, and like many other medicines some of
these prescribed drugs are diverted and become available illegally.
Deaths occur more frequently at the beginning of treatment in
methadone programmes; they are usually a cause of excessive doses
(i.e. erroneously estimated tolerance) and they are affected by
concomitant diseases (hepatitis, pneumonia). Methadone generally
entails the entire spectrum of opioid side effects, including the
development of tolerance and physical and psychological dependence.
Respiratory depressions are dangerous. The released histamines can
cause hypotension or bronchospasms. Other symptoms are:
constipation, nausea or vomiting, sedation, vertigo, oedema.
Body as a whole
- muscle spasticity
- difficulty breathing
- slow, shallow and laboured breathing
- stopped breathing (sometimes fatal within 2-4 hours)
Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
- pinpoint pupils
- bluish skin
- bluish fingernails and lips
- spasms of the stomach and/or intestinal tract
Heart and blood vessels
- weak pulse
- low blood pressure
As an opiate, regular use of methadone causes physical dependency
- if you've been using it regularly (prescribed or not) once you
stop you will experience a withdrawal. The physical changes due to
the drug are similar to other opiates (like heroin); suppressed
cough reflex, contracted pupils, drowsiness and constipation. Some
methadone users feel sick when they first use the drug. If you are a
woman using methadone you may not have regular periods - but you are
still able to conceive. Methadone is a long-acting opioid; it has an
effect for up to 36 hours (if you are using methadone you will not
withdraw for this period) and can remain in your body for several
In Iain Duncan Smiths report on addiction published in July 2007
it is stated that "Spending
on prescribed methadone has reached £111 million per annum".
His report also states
"Methadone, the favoured drug for prescribing, is the unquestioned
mainstay of the public health response to drugs treatment in
general. The evidence base for its efficacy relates to
‘stabilisation’ measures, to remaining opiate- free for defined
periods, and to ‘retention in treatment’ and ending illicit drug
use. Our analysis is that methadone does not and cannot have a
useful and positive role in the treatment of addiction. But the
rapid expansion of its prescription appears to be as much an outcome
of political pressure and target driven policy as of a dispassionate
clinical response to the treatment needs of a particularly
vulnerable population. We have found the current mass prescription
of methadone to be the cause of deep disquiet amongst drugs workers
and addicts alike."
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