During World War II, methadone was originally synthesized by German scientists, to suffice for a morphine shortage. Methadone can produce many of the same effects of morphine or heroine, even though it’s chemically different. In 1947, Methadone came to the United States as an analgesic (Dolophinel). Today, methadone is mainly used for the treatment of opiate addictions, such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Heroin. Methadone is also currently used to relieve moderate to severe pain, not previously controlled by non-narcotic pain relievers.
Methadone can be administered by oral solutions, tablets and injecatbles. Being the effects of methadone can last up to 24 hours, it is only given once per day, such as in heroin detoxification and other maintenance programs. Heroin addicts under the treatment of methadone, can take a high-dose which can block the effects of heroin to discourage the continued use of it.
Side effects can include constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, increased sweating, itching, lightheadedness, nausea, pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, vomiting and weakness.
Methadone tolerance and dependence can occur due to chronic administration. A methadone withdrawal syndrome can develop more slowly and is less severe, but more prolonged than withdrawal associated with heroin withdrawal. Now, methadone that is used to control narcotic addictions has been found on the illicit drug market and has been linked to a number of overdose deaths.
Addicts that are not prepared to experience opiate withdrawal, will continue the use of methadone. This continued use and abuse of methadone can develop a higher tolerance of it, thus users will need larger amounts of the drug, leading to a new drug dependency.