Methadone is a synthetic (man-made) narcotic.
German scientists synthesized methadone during World War II because of a shortage of morphine. Methadone was introduced into the United States in 1947 as an analgesic (Dolophinel).
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Methadone is available as a tablet, oral solution, or injectable liquid. Tablets are available in 5 mg and 10 mg formulations. As of January 1, 2008, manufacturers of methadone hydrochloride tablets 40 mg (dispersible) have voluntarily agreed to restrict distribution of this formulation to only those facilities authorized for detoxification and maintenance treatment of opioid addiction, and hospitals. Manufacturers will instruct their wholesale distributors to discontinue supplying this formulation to any facility not meeting the above criteria.
Methods of abuse
Methodone can be swallowed or injected.
Abuse of methadone can lead to psychological dependence.
When an individual uses methadone, he/she may experience physical symptoms like sweating, itchy skin, or sleepiness. Individuals who abuse methadone risk becoming tolerant of and physically dependent on the drug. When use is stopped, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms including:
- Anxiety, muscle tremors, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps
- Slow and shallow breathing, blue fingernails and lips, stomach spasms, clammy skin, convulsions, weak pulse, coma, and possible death
Drugs with similar effects
Although chemically unlike morphine or heroin, methadone produces many of the same effects.
Legal status in the United States
Methadone is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. While it may legally be used under a doctor’s supervision, its non-medical use is illegal.