/meth"euh dohn'/, n. Pharm.a synthetic narcotic, C21H28ClNO, similar to morphine but effective orally, used in the relief of pain and as a heroin substitute in the treatment of heroin addiction.Also, methadon /meth"euh don'/.[1945-50, Amer.; METH(YL) + A(MINO) + D(IPHENYL) + (HEPTAN)ONE]
* * *Organic compound, a potent synthetic narcotic drug, the most effective form of treatment for addiction to heroin and other narcotics (see drug addiction).It has been widely used in heroin-addiction programs in the U.S. since the 1960s. Though addictive itself, it is easier to stop using than heroin. It also causes no euphoric effects and does not lead to development of tolerance, so increasing doses are not required. A person taking a daily maintenance dose does not experience either heroin withdrawal symptoms or a heroin rush from any attempt to resume heroin, so heroin's psychological hold on the user can be broken.
* * *▪ drugpotent synthetic narcotic drug (drug abuse) that is the most effective form of treatment for addiction to heroin and other narcotics. Methadone first became available at the end of World War II. Similar to morphine in its analgesic effect, it was originally used in medicine to alleviate severe pain. Methadone is used in the form of its hydrochloride salt, which is a white, crystalline powder with a bitter taste. It is soluble in water, in alcohol, and in chloroform.Methadone's usefulness in treating heroin addiction was discovered in the 1960s. It is now routinely used on a daily, long-term (maintenance) basis as a substitute drug given to persons who were formerly or who would otherwise be addicted to heroin. It is given orally once a day. Methadone's usefulness as a heroin substitute stems from several important effects the drug has. First and foremost, when taken daily it prevents a former heroin addict from feeling withdrawal symptoms and it suppresses his drug hunger for heroin. Second, methadone itself causes no euphoric effects whatsoever, unlike heroin, so the person feels no disruptive psychological craving for it. Third, the human body does not develop a tolerance for methadone, unlike heroin, so methadone doses of the same (rather than increasing) size can be taken for long periods of time. Fourth, when used on a maintenance basis, methadone actually blocks the euphoric effects, or “high,” produced by heroin, thus robbing this drug of its psychological attractiveness to the former addict. Finally, methadone's lack of euphoric effects and its 24-hour period of action enable persons maintained on it to lead relatively normal lives involving work, schooling, and normal family and social relations.Methadone is an addictive drug, but one can more easily cease using it than heroin. Because of this, methadone is sometimes used to detoxify heroin addicts; the addict switches from heroin to a high daily dose of methadone, which is then gradually reduced over several weeks until the patient is drug-free. In this way the severe withdrawal symptoms encountered in abruptly quitting heroin are avoided.Methadone-maintenance therapy is markedly successful in keeping addicts off the use of heroin or whatever other narcotic they were using, but there is considerably less success in enabling such people to stop using methadone as well and be drug-free.
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