Methadone is a drug that belongs to the family of drugs called opioids. This group of drugs are often referred to a depressant drugs as they slow messages which travel from the brain to the rest of the body.
In the 1960’s it was discovered by two chemists in New York, Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander, that regular use of methadone can work as a reliable treatment for opioid addiction. Since then, the drug has been adopted as an aid to those people who are addicted to other drugs in the same group of opioid drugs, namely heroin, morphine and codeine.
How Does Methadone Work?
For those that are addicted to opiods, taking Methadone every day can eliminate physical withdrawal symptoms. The drug also helps to control the cravings for opioids and, for those that do use opiods, it will also neutralise the high effect from opioid abuse.
What Does Methadone Look Like?
Methadone, when prescribed by a doctor for heroin withdrawal, is normally a green liquid which is swallowed. The drug can also be found in tablet form. It can also be injected.
What Are the Effects of Methadone?
The effects of Methadone can be felt quite rapidly and can last for hours.
Some effects include:
- Lowering of physical and psychological pain
- Body functions start to slow down
- A pleasurable, warm and relaxed feeling
- Lowered anxiety
- Slow pulse and shallow breathing
- Risk of fatal overdose.
Can You Get Addicted to Methadone?
Methadone has similar effects to heroin and and, like heroin, it is also very addictive, particularly if you are using Methadone to get “high”. Regular use builds up tolerance to the drug meaning that you need to take more to achieve the same effects. Withdrawal can be difficult if stopped suddenly. However, methadone withdrawal starts more slowly and is less intense than withdrawal from heroin.
How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your System?
It usually only takes 2 weeks for methadone to get out of your system, but traces of the drug can be detected for longer periods. This will depend on the kind of drug test used. Law enforcement officials, addiction treatment programs, employers, athletic organizations, etc. could request methadone drug tests.
Standard drug tests detect opioids like codeine, heroin and morphine, but they don’t detect methadone. As a result, more specific and expensive drug tests are required if methadone is the drug being screened for. Various urine, saliva, hair, and blood tests have been created to detect methadone in the body.
- Urine Drug Tests: The most common test for detecting methadone is a urine test. The timeframe for detecting methadone using a urine test ranges from 1 hour to 2 weeks after the last intake. Urine tests are the preferred option for methadone testing since it is easy to administer, comparatively cheap, easy to administer and the detection period is relatively long.
- Saliva Drug Tests: These are a non-invasive and convenient way for methadone testing. In as little as 30 minutes after ingestion, a trace of methadone is detectable in saliva and is detectable for a few days after last use.
- Hair Drug Test: Over time, this method is the best for methadone testing. A long-time user will have trace amounts of methadone in their hair. New methadone users could take a couple of weeks before methadone is detectable in their hair. Hair tests are useful for uncovering long-term methadone users since trace amounts of the drug will stay in the hair for months following the last ingestion.
- Blood Test: In less than 30 minutes following last use, methadone is detectable in the blood and it is detectable for a few days. Blood tests are very accurate, but they are also invasive, costly and the detection period is comparatively short, therefore, it is not often used for methadone testing.
Methadone and the Law
In the UK, methadone has been classified as a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Unless you are under medical treatment, it is illegal to have, sell or give away the drug. Possession of methadone can get you up to seven years in jail.
You are not permitted to drive a car whilst receiving methadone treatment unless you receive permission from the DVLA following medical consultation.
Is There a Methadone Drugs Test?
Yes – a urine drug test for Methadone can be purchased from Zoom Testing. Various multi-panel drug tests are also available that will detect methadone at the same time as other drugs of abuse. The widest-ranging multi-panel drug screen is the 12D test which detects methadone and 11 other drugs.
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This post has been updated since its original publication in 2014.