What is methadone?

Aka: meth, juice, phy
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Remember: All drugs, including the misuse of prescribed medication, can pose serious health risks, up to and including possible death.

Methadone is an opiate that can be prescribed to try and help wean people off illegal opiates such as heroin. Methadone is a green or blue liquid, which you drink or can also come in tablet, ampoules (for injection) or linctus form.

It works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain; thus reducing the high and helping people to wean off heroin. It is very dangerous to mix it with alcohol or barbiturates.

Is methadone legal? 

It is legal when obtained via prescription and obtained in a licensed pharmacy. However, street use without a prescription is illegal.

What happens if you take it?

Methadone induces a state of relaxation and often drowsiness. Due to its opiate activity, it also has uses as a painkiller. For this reason, some pain clinics offer it as a treatment to those suffering from painful chronic diseases. 

What are the side effects of methadone?

  • Constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss
  • In large doses it can also affect breathing and dangerously decrease the ability to take in oxygen
  • Methadone can cause you produce less saliva, which can lead to teeth problems, so it’s important to brush your teeth
  • Your risk of overdose increases if you take a break and then start using again as your tolerance will be lower
  • Methadone is poisonous to people who do not use it regularly so it is important to keep it out of reach of children or others in your home who may drink it by accident

Can you experience withdrawal from methadone?

You will start withdrawal within 72 hours of your last dose. Withdrawal is less severe if you reduce your dose gradually rather than stop suddenly. Opiate withdrawal symptoms include aches, tremor, diarrhoea, sweating and chills, sneezing, yawning and muscular spasms. You may have sleep problems, cravings and mood swings for weeks.

Support services

  • Drugs.ie: Online information and support for drug and alcohol use. Includes a national directory of drug and alcohol services
  • HSE Drugs, Alcohol, HIV and Sexual Health Helpline: Freephone 1800 459 459
  • The Club Drug Clinic offers advice, support and detoxification for GHB (Liquid Ecstasy, G) and other chemsex and club drugs is an integrated person centred specialist addiction service: Tel 016488600
  • Rialto Community Drug Team
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