What is Methadone?

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Methadone is a synthetic opiate, a narcotic. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain and is also used as substitute for heroin in the treatment of heroin addiction. It is similar to heroin, but does not produce the same high as heroin.

Opiates are sedative drugs that depress the user’s nervous system. This class of drug slows down body functions and reduces physical and psychological pain.

Often, doctors prescribe methadone to heroin addicts. They substitute the drugs with a plan that quantity of methadone is gradually reduced over time. In this way, the user is able to stop using heroin and avoid the more acute symptoms of withdrawal.

The main effects of methadone include:

  • The reduction of physical and psychological pain.
  • Feelings of relaxation, warmth and detachment.
  • An overdose can lead to coma (and even death from respiratory failure).


Methadone is a sedative drug that targets the nervous system. The effects of methadone can begin quickly and last several hours.

The effects of methadone include:

  • A slowing down of bodily functioning and a reduction of physical and psychological pain.
  • Feelings of warmth, relaxation and detachment.
  • Relieving feelings of panic and anxiety
  • Depressing the nervous system, heart rate and breathing, with a risk of fatal overdose.


Taking methadone illegally does involve a number of risks. When prescribed by a physician, methadone is subject to stringent controls and regulations, as with any other medication. In this way, you are certain of the strength of the drug and know that it has not been tampered with. The same is not true for methadone that is bought on the street.

These are some of the dangers:

  • The methadone could be unusually concentrated and more powerful than expected.
  • Some people become quite ill the first time they take it and can become very constipated.
  • With high doses of methadone, users feel sluggish and sleepy. An extreme amount can cause the user to fall into a coma or stop breathing completely.
  • Complications with pregnancies, including a risk of miscarriage and still births occur with opiate addiction. However, it’s not a good idea to stop using opiates suddenly if you’re pregnant as this may cause premature labour or miscarriage. Methadone can be continued throughout pregnancy to minimise these risks.


Mixing methadone with alcohol or with other sedatives can be extremely dangerous and result in serious consequences. Overdose is more likely in users who mix methadone and alcohol, and can lead to a coma or respiratory failure and death.


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