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.