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What is methadone?

What it is: Methadone is a synthetic opiate developed by the Germans during World War II as a substitute for morphine.

What it isn?t: Methadone often is confused with ?meth,? or methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant commonly cooked in clandestine labs. Methadone is a completely different ? and legal ? drug.

Uses: Until recently, methadone was given mostly to heroin addicts to suppress their cravings. Now, doctors are increasingly prescribing it as a painkiller.

Dangers: Methadone acts differently from other painkillers. It can stay in the body for an unusually long time, making it possible for therapeutic

doses to build up to a toxic level.

Methadone may take a while to make its effects felt. Patients may take an extra dose, thinking the first one isn?t working, and an overdose can result.

An overdose of methadone may cause a patient to fall into a deep sleep and eventually stop breathing. Methadone is more dangerous when taken with certain other drugs, such as Valium and Xanax.

Reactions to methadone vary dramatically. A dose that is therapeutic for one person might kill someone else.


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