Methadone is a synthetic opiate that has been used for the treatment of opioid addiction for over 40 years. It has a much longer half life than most opiates. It works by blocking the ‘high’ produced by other opiates and helps decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms for 24-36 hours after each dose, which helps decrease the risk of relapse.
Methadone changes the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain so that you feel relief. Its effects are slower than those of other strong painkillers like morphine. It also blocks the high from drugs like codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. It can give a similar feeling and keep you from having withdrawal symptoms and cravings. You will hear this called replacement therapy. It’s usually just one part of your treatment plan. It isn’t a cure for addiction.
Methadone as used for the treatment addiction is strictly regulated. In the US, outpatient treatment programs must be certified by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and registered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in order to prescribe methadone for opioid addiction.