What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a white, crystalline material that is water soluble with a melting pint of about 235°C and a pH ranging between 4.5 and 6.5. Other chemical components of the drug include magnesium stearate, lactose monohydrate, silicon dioxide and microcrystalline cellulose. The correct chemical name is Methadone hydrochloride.
In the US, Methadone is listed as a schedule II drug; these drugs have medicinal value but also pose a high threat of abuse and addiction. The drug is legally available in many countries, including the US where it is used to help to control pain that is caused by diseases such as cancer and to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of opiates such as heroin.
Methadone was initially discovered during World War II when German scientists developed it as a way of controlling the negative withdrawal symptoms of natural opiates as there was a concern that a shortage of natural opiates may be experienced. The drug that was originally developed in WWII was called Dolophine, but after further development, the American Medical Association (AMA) gave it the generic name Methadone.
The drug is used as a replacement for stronger opiates as it provides the same euphoric effects but for much longer. A Methadone high lasts for about 24-72 hours, whereas the cycles of other opiates are only between 4-8 hours. Methadone is also more readily available and sold at a lower price than other illegal opiates such as heroin and oxytoncin.
Continued use of methadone can result in addiction. However it is absolutely imperative to understand that a Methadone addiction can be even more powerful than a heroin addiction and takes up to three times longer to withdraw from. The withdrawal of Methadone takes place either through a detoxification process or weaning and should only be carried out under the close supervision of a doctor.
Many people who are already involved in using illegal opiates turn to Methadone as a result of its affordability and the fact it is more readily available. Just like with other types of drugs however continual abuse of Methadone will lead to the patient increasing their tolerance of it. This often results in users becoming stuck in a negative cycle of needing more and taking more which will lead to a physical dependency on methadone, the addict’s tolerance to the drug increases over time.
Addicts will continue to use the drug as they are not prepared to experience the withdrawal symptoms that they were originally attempting to escape while they were abusing other drugs such as heroin.
Methadone is a synthetic opioid and provides multiple actions that are similar to those of morphine and is mainly active in the nervous system and smooth muscles. The reason why it used as part of the detoxification process is because the response rate is slower and the effects last longer. The withdrawal symptoms of the drug are less severe especially if the prescribed amounts have not been exceeded.
Methadone is usually ingested drug orally, and the bioavailability can take anywhere between one and eight hours to reach peak concentrations. The substance is lipophilic and its distribution ranges between one and eight L/kg.
Faecal and renal excretion of Methadone drug is assisted by extensive biotransformation.