The word METHADONE sparks strong emotion is most
people. Some praise it for its use in addiction
treatment. Some curse it as a Government sponsored
drug abuse program.
Methadone is a synthetic (man-made) narcotic. It
is used legally to treat addiction to narcotics and
to relieve severe pain, often in individuals who
have cancer or terminal illnesses. Although
methadone has been legally available in the United
States since 1947, more recently it has emerged as a
drug of abuse.
Individuals who abuse methadone risk becoming
tolerant of and physically dependent on the drug.
When these individuals stop using the drug they may
experience withdrawal symptoms including muscle
tremors, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal
Overdosing on methadone poses an additional risk.
In some instances, individuals who abuse other
narcotics (such as heroin or OxyContin) turn to
methadone because of its increasing availability.
Methadone, however, does not produce the euphoric
rush associated with those other drugs; thus, these
users often consume dangerously large quantities of
methadone in a vain attempt to attain the desired
Methadone overdoses are associated with severe
respiratory depression, decreases in heart rate and
blood pressure, coma, and death. The Drug Abuse
Warning Network reports that methadone was involved
in 10,725 emergency department visits in 2001--a 37
percent increase from the previous year.
Most common side effects drowsiness:
lightheadedness; weakness; euphoria; dry mouth;
urinary retention; constipation; slow or troubled
breathing Occasional side effects allergic
reactions: skin rash, hives, itching; headache;
dizziness; impaired concentration; sensation of
drunkenness; confusion; depression; blurred or
double vision; facial flushing; sweating; heart
palpitation; nausea and vomiting Least common side
effects anaphylactic reactions; hypotension causing
weakness and fainting; disorientation;
hallucinations; unstable gait; tremor; muscle
twitching, kidney failure; seizures, drowsiness,
confusion; tremors; convulsions, stupor leading to
coma, cold and clammy skin, hypotension, bradycardia
Chocolate chip cookies
(methadone or heroin combined with MDMA)
Abusing methadone is illegal. Methadone is a
Schedule II substance under the Controlled
Substances Act. Schedule II drugs, which include
cocaine and methamphetamine, have a high potential
for abuse. Abuse of these drugs may lead to severe
psychological or physical dependence.
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