Functions and precautions of Methadone

Methadone was first formulated in Germany in 1937 as a narcotic painkiller for the German troops in World War II. At the time, there was a great dearth of opium, which made manufacturing opiate painkillers quite difficult. Therefore the Germans came up with a synthetic narcotic drug as an alternative. Presently, methadone is prescribed as a painkiller across the globe. However, methadone is better termed as the ‘replacement drug’ for people who have an addiction to morphine, heroin and many other narcotics, since it is an opioid medication; it is a practice called ‘methadone maintenance treatment’ in a euphemistic way. This drug reduces the withdrawal symptoms in individuals addicted to the above-mentioned narcotic drugs. It is said to have similar effects to morphine or heroin, although it does not render the same amount of high or buzz as heroin. Opiates are known as sedative drugs which depresses the nervous system. They reduce the pace of the body at which it operates and lessens psychological and physical pain. Research done on methadone market states that an individual, who is addicted to heroin, is most likely asked to consume this drug instead of heroin, and the dosage is progressively reduced with time. As a result, the patient can with minimal efforts quit heroin and thereby preventing any kind of acute withdrawal symptoms.


A few main methadone effects which can last for several hours include:

  • Feeling relaxation, warmth and detachment
  • Lessening psychological and physical pain
  • Over dosage can result in coma (even fatal due to respiratory failure)
  • Alleviates anxiety
  • Slows down body functioning

How does methadone work?

The opioid drug, methadone works on parts of the spinal cord and brain to obstruct the ‘high’ caused by prolonged use of opiates like heroin. This drug also assists in decreasing the amount of cravings along with withdrawal symptoms owing to the use of opiate. Methadone process is much similar to many other synthetic medicinal drugs in the category of morphine.

Patients with certain medical conditions such as an electrolyte imbalance, a history of brain tumor, head injury, or seizures; kidney or liver disease, lung disease or breathing problems, cardiac problems, thyroid, pancreatic or gallbladder troubles, etc., must mention to the healthcare provider. This is because some medications used in case of these mentioned health problems can interact with methadone and result in severe condition known as serotonin syndrome. Also, medicines meant for Parkinson’s disease, serious infections, migraine headaches, etc., also interrelate with methadone. Therefore, a doctor must know all of these vital information before he or she prescribes methadone to a patient.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.



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