Information and educational resources about methadone


What is methadone?

Methadone is a rigorously well-tested medication that has been safely used to treat opioid addiction in the United States for more than 40 years. Methadone:

  • Blocks the craving for opioids that is a major factor in relapse.
  • Suppresses the symptoms of opioid withdrawal for 24 to 36 hours.
  • Blocks the effects of administered heroin.
  • Does not cause euphoria, intoxication or sedation.

Methadone abuse

Methadone can result in fatal overdoses; however, the rate of overdose among patients enrolled in methadone maintenance is low. While methadone may be detected in drug-related deaths, it is often not the causative agent. In one study in the west of Scotland, during the period from 1991 to 2001, methadone alone was judged to be the causative agent in only 29 percent of drug-related deaths (Seymour, Black, Jay, et al., 2003).

Similarly, with the increased use of methadone as a treatment for chronic pain, the majority of methadone-related deaths in Australia and the United States are believed to be associated with the use of this medication for pain treatment instead of treatment of opioid dependence (Williamson, Foreman, White, et al., 1997; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2004).

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Information courtesy of the National Institute on Drug Abuse – International Program

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