Methadone is a prescription medication used for treating opioid addiction and as a long-lasting pain-killer.
It has the same effects on the body as other opioids — like heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine — but has a much longer duration of effects.
The ability to affect the same receptors as heroin and other opioid drugs and long duration of effects allows medical professionals to help people wean off opioid drugs. The goal is to reduce withdrawal symptoms — which can be unbearable.
It works by giving the drug in controlled doses, reducing each dose gradually over time. This causes mild withdrawal symptoms that can be spread out over weeks or months until the drug is no longer needed.
Despite its use in treating opioid addiction, many users are addicted to methadone itself. It’s use is highly controversial for this reason, with many people arguing that methadone enables opioid addiction more than it eliminates it.
People can become addicted to methadone by using the drug for treating chronic pain, or after taking it in an attempt to stop illicit drugs use like heroin or fentanyl. If the methadone isn’t weaned off, people will become addicted to it.