Methadone is a man-made opiate which can be used as a painkiller and is also prescribed to heroin users when they’re trying to come off heroin. Methadone comes as a tablet, syrup or injection. In a treatment program, it’s usually taken as a syrup mixed with cordial or fruit juice.


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The effects of methadone are similar to heroin, except without the rush. You’ll still feel calm, relaxed, warm and often sleepy on methadone. Like other depressants, it slows down your heart rate and nervous system. Methadone will affect you for much longer than heroin, up to 24 hours from one dose. 

Some side effects that can happen are feeling sick, vomiting, sweating, stomach cramps and skin rashes. For heroin users, a methadone treatment can only work if it’s being closely watched by a doctor. A dose that’s too low can be ineffective in staving off cravings and symptoms of withdrawal and too much can result in an overdose

It’s also dangerous to buy methadone off the street as you can’t be sure what the strength is or if it is in fact methadone. You should never mix it with other drugs, especially depressants like Xanax or alcohol, as this is the most common cause of overdose.

Methadone can be very addictive. If you’re taking it for a long period of time chances are you’ll need to take more in order to still feel it, which means you’ve built up a tolerance. Methadone treatment programs can vary from person to person. Some clients stay on a stable dose for an extended period of time, while others stay in treatment for their entire lives.

Methadone treatment programs can vary from person to person


There are a number of reasons why methadone is preferable to being dependent on heroin.

  • First, methadone is swallowed. This cuts out the risk of using shared or dirty injecting equipment and becoming infected with Hepatitis B, C or HIV.
  • Second, methadone can be administered in a controlled way. This means that the drug is dispensed in a clinical environment so there is no risk of it being impure.
  • Third, the effects of methadone last up to 24 hours and this means you only needs one dose a day to control withdrawal. 

These factors can help stabilise your lifestyle. It reduces the stress and anxiety over where the next dose of heroin is coming from and encourages you to look after yourself and others. Methadone is also cheaper than heroin.


Only doctors authorised by the Director-General of Health can lawfully prescribe methadone. In any other case it is illegal, it carries penalties and potential jail time.


If you have dependency issues with opiates such as Heroin and Oxycontin, methadone treatments may be available to you. A good place to start is to give us a call on  our 24 hour free YoDAA Line: 1800 458 685