Thursday, August 16, 2007

Methadone: Brief History, Law


  • Methadone comes as tablets and ampoules of clear, injectable liquid. Both are prescribed under the trade name Physeptone.
  • It's also found as a brown, orange or green linctus of varying strengths or as a mixture known as DTF, which comes in the same colours as the linctus, but is stronger. Don't inject - injecting anything is stupid! There's a risk of overdose and, if you share needles, of getting infections like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B or C.

The methadone effect

The effects of methadone are similar to heroin, but it's not as powerful.
  • There's no intense hit, which is why heroin users don't like it as much.
  • The effects are longer lasting than heroin - pain relief and feelings of well-being can last up to 24 hours.

What you won't like

You may also suffer from nausea and vomiting, severe constipation, stomach and back pain and loss of sexual drive.

Methadone is as addictive as heroin. You can quickly gain a physical and psychological dependence to methadone if you use it regularly and this can be as strong as heroin dependence.

Methadone tolerance
This builds up with continued use, although not as quickly as with heroin.

  • Because methadone is chemically similar to heroin, methadone tolerance can be transferred to heroin and vice versa.
  • Methadone tolerance is quickly lost. If you don't use it for a week, your tolerance will be back to near zero. So if you take your "normal" dose again it can result in an overdose.

Methadone withdrawal is even tougher than heroin withdrawal.
  • If you're trying to come off methadone, you must get professional help because your dose needs to be brought down gradually over a period of a few weeks.
  • The physical and psychological effects can be as bad as for heroin, but the real problem is that the withdrawal symptoms can last for six weeks or more. However, the pain and fear will gradually reduce after the struggle of the first 2-3 weeks. No matter how hard it is, remember that people have done it before you.

What is methadone

Methadone is a man-made chemical that has similar properties to opiates such as heroin. Most of the information on heroin goes for methadone as well. It's often used by doctors to wean addicts off heroin on a controlled regimen.

Methadone and other drugs
Some people have started using methadone to help them come down from ecstasy and amphetamine. It's true that this will take the edge off a comedown but it's an extremely dangerous way to do it. The abrupt change to your heart-rate puts your heart under great stress; if you don't know what you're doing you may take too much or mix it with dangerously high levels of other depressants such as alcohol or tranquillizers. The net result is your heart-rate and breathing slow so much they could stop completely.

The Law
Methadone is a Class A drug, but it's schedule 2 which means it's only legal to have if it's prescribed for you by a doctor. It's illegal to give it away or sell it to someone else.

As with heroin, you can't guarantee your safety on methadone but you can lower the risks. Most importantly, don't mix it with other drugs.

If something goes wrong

  • If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.

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