Known colloquially as ‘juice’, ‘meth’ or ‘green’.
Methadone is a synthetic opioid (a family that includes drugs like opium and morphine, derived from the opium poppy, as well as synthetics); it is a strong painkiller often used in the treatment of heroin addiction. This form of treatment, often known as Opioid Substitution Therapy (or OST) emerged from research carried out in the 1960s by US scientists Dole, Nyswinder and Kreek. It is now very widely practiced.
Methadone has a long-lasting effect and a smooth action; it prevents heroin withdrawal symptoms without producing some of the pleasurable effects of heroin. It is, nonetheless, an addictive drug in its own right, producing tolerance and its own withdrawal syndrome. It is available on the street, and usually comes in the form of a sticky green liquid; the liquid mixture is made in other colours however, and also in tablet form. Both the liquid and tablet forms are made for oral use, but are occasionally injected; ampoules for injection are produced but are prescribed to relatively few heroin users.
The drug’s effects are similar to those of heroin but the onset is more gradual and the effect more long-lasting, (from 24 to 30 hours). Overdose can be fatal.
Methadone is a Class A, schedule 2 drug. It is illegal to possess without a prescription, or to supply or produce without a licence.
Possession of Class A drugs carries a maximum sentence of 7 years imprisonment and a fine. Trafficking offences carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine.
Free, confidential information and advice is available by calling the Release Drugs Helpline on 0845 45 00 215