What is Methadone?

Is Methadone about Simply Replacing One Drug for Another?

No it is not.

  • Methadone is a safe and effective medication for opiate addiction. Its pharmacological effects are markedly different from those of heroin.
  • It has a far more gradual onset of action than heroin, and as a result patients stabilize and do not experience any rush.
  • Maintenance treatment reduces the desire for heroin.
  • Patients stabilized on methadone can function normally.
  • Decreased drug use, reduced criminal activity, and gainful employment can be achieved by most Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) patients.
  • Comprehensive MMT, along with sound prenatal care, has been shown to decrease obstetrical and fetal complication.
  • Effectiveness of MMT is dependent on many factors including adequate dosage, duration plus continuity of treatment, and accompanying psychological services.
  • Effectiveness of MMT is often dependent on the involvement of a knowledgeable and empathetic staff, and the availability of psychotherapy and other counseling.

“Methadone does not impair cognitive functions, intelligence, or employability. It is not sedating or intoxicating, nor does it interfere with ordinary activities such as driving a car or operating machinery. Patients are able to feel pain and experience emotional reactions.”

Office of National Drug Control Policy, Fact Sheet on Methadone, April 2000

For More information on methadone:

  • Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide (NIH, 1999)
  • Methadone Dosing & Safety
  • Using Medications to Support Recovery