Methodone is a synthetic opioid that is used to treat addiction to drugs like heroin and Oxy Contin. Methadone was developed in 1937 in Germany and was brought to the United States and marked in 1947 by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.
According to the White House Drug Policy about 20% of the estimated 810,000 heroin addicts in the United States receive methadone treatment.
Methadone is a morphine-based drug and is commonly given to heroin addicts to curb cravings for the drug as a replacement drug therapy. But what many don’t know is that methadone is an addictive substance and even though it is reported that withdrawal symptoms are generally slightly less severe than those of morphine or heroin at equivalent doses, the withdrawal is significantly more prolonged. Methadone withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks or more, thus individuals taking methadone for long periods of time may find it more difficult to give up methadone than people who go directly from heroin use to no drugs.
Methadone also has many negative side effects. Some of these include shallow breathing, hallucinations or confusion, fast or pounding heartbeats, chest pain, trouble breathing, feeling light-headed, fainting, feeling anxious, nervous, or restless, sleep problems (insomnia), dizziness, drowsiness, or weakness, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, and decreased sex drive.
Recent news article have indicated that many who start methadone treatment often relapse and get back on heroin as well as other hard drugs. Methadone has also been responsible for many deaths in connection with its use. Over the years there have been reported increases in methadone deaths. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration there were 1,114 cases of methadone-associated deaths in adults (an average of 35 per year) were reported between 1970 and 2002. But more methadone-associated deaths were reported in 2001 alone than during the entire period from 1990 through 1999. The number doubled again in 2002 with the increased use of methadone.