Methadone is a manmade drug with a longer half-life. It is aimed at helping individuals who are addicted to opioid to control their opioid craving. For the very first time in 1964, federally authorized methadone clinics known as opioid treatment programs started to use a considerably controlled amount of methadone to help individuals who had fought back their heroin addiction to completely eliminate their urge to use further powerful drugs with a relatively short half-life.
During the initial years of 90s, states started to place methadone on their list of preferred drug as prescription painkiller for Medicaid patients. Because methadone was not an expensive drug as compared to other opioid-based medications for pain such as Vicodin or OxyContin, it was widely prescribed as a treatment for chronic pain particularly for patients with a low income.
Methadone binds to the opioid receptors in the brain for one or two days and it has a half-life of 10 – 50 hours. For such individuals who are already tolerant to heroin, methadone basically helps in dealing with the withdrawal side effects and sudden urge to get back to heroin. The use of methadone does not lead to the same euphoric state, which is induced by the heroin. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
For the reason that methadone helps to control heroin addiction and minimize the cravings, it is not as seriously controlled as other drugs. However, it is a strong opiate and has potential addictive nature. Such individuals who use methadone to deal with their heroin addiction possess an increased risk of abuse due to the fact that they already have opioid dependency.
On the other hand, individuals who do not have a past history of opioid tolerance can also develop addiction to methadone because this drug works as a painkiller. With the continuous usage tolerance increases and results in need of higher dosage for the similar effect. Individuals who continue to take methadone for a longer duration becomes physically dependent on it. Approximately 2 million individuals were reported to have a methadone addiction in any given year in the U.S.
Methadone addiction is considered a controversial issue because most individuals from the medical community think of methadone as an essential medication to support recovery from heroin addiction. However, similar to any opiate, addiction is one of the most common side effects.
Methadone does not create and feelings of euphoria. It is actually intended to work in the opposite direction by eliminating the euphoric feelings created by other opiates. However, individuals still tend to abuse methadone.
Despite the fact that methadone is not like morphine or heroin, its overdose can lead to a number of similar side effects associated with the withdrawal of drug. If individuals suddenly reduce the use of methadone or simply quit at once, they will experience a wide range of different withdrawal side effects. For such situation, methadone detox and addiction treatment programs can help with a safe withdrawal process.