Methadone: Origin, Uses and Side Effects
Everything You Need To Know About Methadone
Common Street Names of Methadone: The drug is also known as done or “the done” in Australia.
Brand Names: Commercially, it is sold under the name Phebra, Aspen, Wellcome, Sigma, Physeptone.
Many people are not aware of what is Methadone?
It is a synthetic drug that is commonly known by many different names. It falls under the category of opioid drugs and has been used for multiple purposes.
The drug was developed in Europe (Germany) by chemists Gustav Ehrhart and Max Bockmuhl. The chemists working in the 1930s were looking for strong synthetically prepared opioid analgesics. The efforts bore fruit around 1939; Methadone was developed.
It has been effectively used as a drug to manage opioid addiction since late 1940 (more than 40 years now). Methadone and its uses are discussed below:
General Use of Methadone
Some people confuse Methadone with meth, a colloquial name for methamphetamine.
Opioid addiction is a menace to society. As many as 1,400,000 residents of Australia are potentially addicted to opioids and their derivatives (heroin, hydromorphone, etc.).
Like heroin and other opioids, Methadone is generally used to cure opioid dependencies.
Despite the robust analgesic effect, Methadone is reserved for managing severe pain only in cases that are refractory to non-opioid drugs. The reason is the associated side effects of the drug.
How To Recognize Methadone?
Methadone is available in different forms, including tablets, syrups, and injections. The most commonly used form is oral preparation (tablets and syrups).
Aspen Methadone HCL tablets are white-coloured pills that are to be taken by mouth. The tablet has a convexity on one side and is plain on the other side.
The injection is a clear colourless solution, whereas the syrup (Aspen) has a bright amber colour with a powerful aroma.
How Does It Work?
Methadone binds to specific receptors in your brain (opioid receptors) and slows down the process of signalling and message transmission (by inhibiting neurotransmitter release) involved in pain.
When compared to other opioids, this particular drug has a special pain-killing effect and efficacy and lesser tolerance/dependence.
What Effects It Has on The Body?
The onset of the drug occurs approximately 30 minutes after swallowing; however, it takes about 3 hours to reach the peak effects.
The following effects are observed with Methadone:
- Just like other opioids, Methadone imparts a feeling of euphoria (happiness) and slowed-down responses.
- When given to chronic pain patients, it results in pain relief.
- It lowers the heart rate and breathing rate, which is risky for cardiac/respiratory patients.
- It reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to other opioid drugs (heroin, etc.)
How To Use Methadone?
The most commonly used path of administration is via the mouth. The tablets should be taken with water as per the physician’s prescription. Methadone syrup (5 mg/ml methadone hydrochloride) and Bio done Forte (5 mg/ml methadone HCl) are Australia’s most common preparations.
Methadone must not be used in the following cases:
- During pregnancy
- Patients with respiratory disorders (asthma/breathing issues)
- Impaired liver, respiratory, and heart function
Side Effects of The Drug
The use of this synthetic opioid as an analgesic is limited due to the side effects. The most common side effects of Methadone include appetite changes, nausea/vomiting/diarrhoea, and constipation. Sweating and decreased volume of urine may also result from usage.
Mental confusion and delusion are the outcomes of the euphoric effect of Methadone. The serious complications of the drug include respiratory depression (slowed-down breathing), which is common in overdose patients. This may even lead to death.
Methadone is a synthetically manufactured opioid that has been used for managing opioid withdrawal/addiction patients. Australia Drug Testing offers numerous urine, blood, and alcohol testing kits that can help determine methadone usage. The drug is used as an opioid dependence management drug and is also reserved for the alleviation of severe pain.
The synthetic opioid, like other opioids, imparts a feeling of euphoria and analgesia. It causes respiratory depression. Therefore, it must be cautiously used by comorbid patients and pregnant women. It is available in pill, syrup, and injection forms.
What Is Methadone?
It is a synthetic opioid used for managing withdrawal/opioid dependence and severe chronic pain (cancer pain refractory to other opioids).
Is Methadone Legal in Australia?
Yes, it is TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) approved for managing heroin dependence.
Are Any Side Effects Associated with Methadone?
Low heart rate and breathing rate are serious complications, whereas nausea and gastric upset are common side effects.
How To Receive Methadone?
It’s present in tablet, syrup and injection form. The best way is tablet form for short maintenance or a long course (as prescribed by the doctor).
Effects Of Drugs on Body?
- Decreased craving for heroin (and other opioids)
- Delayed responses and mental judgement
- Mental clouding and confusion
- Decreased heart rate and breathing rate