Methadone is a long lasting synthetic narcotic/opiate. It is usually given in syrup or linctus form to heroin addicts to wean them off heroin (detoxify) and to block withdrawal discomfort, and is then gradually reduced. The drug is addictive and dangerous if given to persons (especially children) who are not narcotic dependent. It is of no benefit to persons co abusing cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, LSD, steroid or benzodiazepines (e.g. Rohypnol).
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Methadone is used as a substitute for heroin. It establishes a type 'blockade' which enables the person to experience less discomfort. Because it is a long-acting drug (24 - 72 hours) it physically stabilises the heroin dependent. It does not produce a 'high' and little tolerance is reported. However, it is extremely dangerous to take other 'street' drugs or alcohol together with methadone. Many addicts die as a result of this practice.
WILL METHADONE CURE MY PROBLEM?
Probably not. Methadone alone is not regarded by experts as treatment for drug addiction. To be effective a complete rehabilitation programme together with family counselling is necessary. However, it will help to control dependence problems by establishing improved physical stability but the psychological craving must be treated. Long term methadone maintenance will not usually motivate an addict to become drug free as it will sustain the user in his/her state of active addiction. The internationally agreed success rate is only 10%.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I STOP?
Abruptly - depending on the dose, withdrawal symptoms may be experienced. These may take longer to appear because of methadone' s longer duration of action. Withdrawal can be very unpleasant; physical symptoms include a sensation of 'crawling' under the skin.
Gradually - this is the advisable method of withdrawal, since physical and emotional changes will be minimised. Also, if done in a clinical environment the drug reduction will be 'quality controlled'. It is not possible for an addict to detox him/herself, as 'street' phy is not controlled.
It may take up to four days for a person to settle down completely when starting on a methadone programme. However, the effects of half a dose will last for up to 24 hours compared to only 3-4 hours for half a dose of heroin. If you have difficulty sleeping, it has been suggested as helpful to take it late at night.
If you take extra opiates whilst on methadone your tolerance will be temporarily increased. Use of sedatives or stimulants or alcohol may make you feel more uncomfortable because your nervous system will not have a chance to settle down.
MORE ABOUT METHADONE:
Pregnant women using methadone should seek further medical assistance regarding their condition.
Babies born to mothers using methadone are very distresses and show withdrawal symptoms which include:
In severe cases, convulsions which can be fatal.
Many insurance companies will not insure people who use methadone. Co- abuse of Rohypnol as a result of irresponsible prescribing is causing serious problems in Dublin for treatment specialists.
Methadone is a poison with a depressing effect on the respiratory system which is magnified and very dangerous when used in combination with other drugs.
Because it does not provides the instant high of heroin, many addicts try to get a 'buzz' by using it with other drugs e.g. rohypnol or alcohol, without realising its potentially lethal effects on breathing.
Overdose can result in Coma and Death.
New advances in treatment using drugs with no potential for abuse due to their non-addictive nature are emerging. Lofexidine is an example (ref: National Drug Treatment Centre, Trinity Court, Dublin, Ireland).
Note:In Sweden it is against the law to consume an illegal drug. Police have the power to screen urine.