"reducing alcohol and drug related harm in our communities"
Key Information





Street Names:

Mixture, Meth, Linctus, Physeptone.


Opiates are sedative drugs that depress the nervous system. They slow down body functioning and reduce physical and psychological pain. The effect is usually to give a feeling of warmth, relaxation and detachment.  Methadone can help to relieve feelings of anxiety.


Some people are sick the first time they take it and they can become constipated.  With high doses, the sedation dominates and users feel sleepy. Too much and you can fall into a coma or stop breathing completely.  Many women don't have periods when they use opiates regularly. If they cut down, or stop, the periods may return. There's a good chance of getting pregnant during this time if they don't use contraception.  Opiates may possibly increase the risk of miscarriage and still births and opiate users may give birth to smaller babies. It's not a good idea to stop using opiates suddenly if you're pregnant as this can cause premature labour and miscarriage.


Methadone that's prescribed to people trying to come off ‘street’ heroin is usually a liquid which is swallowed, but it can come in tablet or injectable form. Subutex (Buprenorphine) is dissolved in the mouth. Effects can start quickly and can last several hours.  Methadone that’s prescribed by a doctor is subject to stringent controls, as with any other medicine, so you can be sure of its strength and that it has not been tampered with.  It allows people to tackle their psychological addiction and stabilize their lifestyle when used as a substitute for heroin. Such treatment may be continued for a long period of time in some cases.  In treatment, opiate substitution therapy, such as methadone and Buprenorphine, is usually aimed initially at obliterating withdrawal symptoms and supporting stabilisation of health and lifestyle. The dose can subsequently then be reduced slowly by agreement until the user is off the drug completely.  There are still problems with heroin withdrawal symptoms, but this method is much less severe than going 'cold turkey'.

The law:

Methadone is a Class A drug - illegal to have, give away or sell. Possession can get you up to seven years in jail. Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

  1. Methadone (Dolophine, Amidone, Methadose, Physeptone, Heptadon and many others) was originally called 'Hoechst 10820' and later, Polamidon.
  2. It was d eveloped during World War II in Germany as a painkiller by Bockmühl and Ehrhart.
  3. Clinical trials of the drug were started in 1947 by Americans.
  4. Later named Dolophine (dolor French for pain and fin for end).
  5. In 1968 Drs Marie Nyswander and Vincent Dole started using it in America to help Heroin users (Heroin usage started around 1870's).
  6. The Cost to thrtax payer is 1.5 million pounds a day, half a billion pounds per year.
  7. There are roughly 350,000 Heroin users on prescribed Methadone in UK, (89% unemployed).
  8. There are 1265 problem Heroin users in Northern Ireland (2001), but since then that figure has risen to nearly 5000.
  9. One dose of Methadone can cost between £4.00-£5.00.
  10. When sold on the streets, ampoules typically sell for £20 or more, and are not relatively scarce as a street drug; tablets are increasingly scarce and could cost a few pounds each. Methadone Mixture is hugely variable in price at a street level - from £10 for a small volume up to £30 or £40 for a larger dose.
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Co. Antrim
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