Its similarity to heroin makes methadone a
useful substitute for recovering heroin addicts. Here's
what you need to know about methadone;
Methadone is a synthetic drug with painkilling properties.
The effects are similar to heroin, though less addictive.
This is why methadone is often used as a substitute to help
heroin users withdraw. It is available in various forms
and strengths. Generally, it is offered as a green liquid
preparation, but can also come in tablet, ampoules (for
injection) or linctus form. The drug is available on prescription
only, and is intended to be taken as part of a supervised
reduction or maintenance programme.
What are the effects of methadone?
The effects are similar to those of heroin and include feelings
of well-being, relief from physical pain and psychological
unease. This is why methadone is primarily used to ease
Drowsiness can occur at higher doses
The effects last up to 24 hours, longer than heroin. This
means heroin users attempting to withdraw do not need to
take methadone as frequently
Withdrawal symptoms are slower to develop but last longer
What are the risks of taking methadone?
Methadone is a very addictive drug. It may be effective
in helping heroin users to withdraw, but methadone misuse
can lead to dependency problems
Tolerance develops. This means the user increasingly needs
more methadone to get the same effect
Side effects can include constipation, nausea, sweating
and itchy skin
Unsupervised or sudden withdrawal can lead to a period of
diarrhoea, insomnia, vomiting, hot and cold sweats, and
Methadone is a powerful drug. Excessive doses can lead to
overdose or coma. Misuse can also be fatal.
If injecting liquid methadone, sharing needles can pass
on diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Methadone and the law:
Methadone is a Class A drug. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act,
it is an offence to possess methadone without a prescription.
Supply of the drug without a license is an offence under
Other names for methadone:
Juice, green, meth, Phy and dollies.
If you are planning to take methadone:
Stick closely to supervision instructions to avoid side-effects
and other risks. For more details, consult your dispensing
pharmacist or local prescribing service.
Prescription methadone users in possession of a UK driving
license are required to disclose their use to the DVLA.
A medical may be required to evaluate whether you can continue
to be licensed to drive.
As a rule, never share needles. Sharing equipment just isn't
worth the risk.