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What is methadone?

The prescription drug methadone is a narcotic (opiate) pain medication. It is used to treat withdrawal symptoms in people trying to quit drugs such as heroin. Using methadone provides relief of these symptoms but does not provide the euphoric feeling that people addicted to opiates seek. Methadone also treats moderate to severe pain that has not been relieved by non-narcotic pain relievers.

If you are using methadone to treat addiction, you must take part in a government-approved treatment program in order to obtain access to this controlled drug. Methadone also can be addictive and have other, serious side effects. Methadone comes as a tablet to swallow, a tablet to dissolve, a drinkable liquid and an injection.

Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to safely prevent drug addicts from relapsing into using substances.  It is a full agonist of the μ-opioid receptor. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tested, safe and efficacious. It does have some abuse problems; however, if used properly by doctors on appropriate people, it is safe. Methadone suppresses withdrawal symptoms, reduces cravings and blocks the euphoric effects of opioids for more than 24 hours. That’s why a once-daily dosing is enough to keep a person stable. 

Methadone tablets are available, and so are injectable versions, but these are easily sold on the black market and abused. Methadone clinics that are federally funded use the liquid form.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.