What is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opiate manufactured for use as a painkiller and as substitute for heroin in the treatment of heroin addiction. It has similar effects to heroin but doesn’t deliver the same degree of buzz or high as heroin.

Opiates are sedative drugs that depress the nervous system. They slow down body functioning and reduce physical and psychological pain.

A patient who is addicted to heroin will often be prescribed methadone to take instead of heroin and the dose of methadone is gradually reduced over time. This means that the patient can give up heroin avoiding acute withdrawal symptoms.

The key effects of methadone include:

  • Reducing physical and psychological pain.
  • Feelings of warmth, relaxation and detachment.
  • Overdoses that can lead to coma (and even death from respiratory failure i.e. when breathing stops).

See also: opiate/opioid painkillers

What does methadone look like?

Methadone prescribed to people trying to come off ‘street’ heroin is usually a green liquid which is swallowed, but it can come in tablet or injectable form.