Sometimes known on the streets as “chocolate chip cookies” or “wafer,” methadone is a powerful narcotic that can wreak havoc on its users. Its original use as a pain killer has made it a popular prescription medicine. When a drug comes into frequent use as a medical treatment, it often drifts out into the streets as well.
Methadone is prescribed today not just as a pain-killer but as a treatment for addiction to heroin and other powerful opiates. Methadone itself is an opioid and can lead to an addiction of its own. Proper medical supervision is needed to keep patients from overdosing or entering methadone withdrawal too quickly for their systems to handle.
Heroin provides a good example of how a legitimate prescription medicine can lead to drug abuse. By the 1800s, heroin was used by doctors around the world as a treatment for pain. It was the medicine of choice.
Because of its popularity as a medicine given by doctors, it became widely known for its ability to ease its users out of their physical and psychical pains. People began to take it without doctors’ care. Thus heroin addiction became a major problem as early as the 19th Century.
Addiction is blind to social classes and walks of life. Many people become addicted based on an original medical reason for taking a drug. When prescription drugs move out into the unregulated marketplace, danger goes along with them.
On the streets, methadone and other desirable drugs may be mixed with other substances. Some of these such as tranquilizers can overpower a person’s nervous system and lead to coma and death. If methadone is cut with something that has little effect, the user may rush into unexpected withdrawal symptoms. The unknown purity of the street version can led to medical crisis
Federal and state laws govern methadone. When it is prescribed as a pain killer, it comes under the general regulations for all controlled substances. Used as a medicine to help wean addicts off heroin and other illegal drugs, more stringent laws apply.
Using it on the streets means major trouble with the law for those who are caught. But those simply caught in addiction to it are in plenty of trouble as it is. There are severe risks to health and life associated with methadone abuse.
The synthetic opioid was developed in German laboratories in the late 1930s. On the verge of the second World War, German government officials ordered scientists to create alternate painkillers for the opium-based medicines that Germany would be cut off from during the war. At the time of its creation by chemical company I. G. Farben, the synthetic product was called Amidon.
Later following Germany’s defeat in the war, its patents on all prescription medicines were cancelled. The United States offered methadone under the name Dolophine in 1947. Soon everyone called it simply “methadone.”
By the start of the 21st Century, methadone was widely used in licensed clinics to help heroin and other narcotic addicts …