The 3 Main Differences Between Methadone and Heroin

methadoneAnyone that has gone through heroin addiction knows how difficult it is to find effective treatment when you’re hooked on this drug. Rehab centers tend to have a lot of trouble treating it, too, as most rehabs have a very low rate of success at actually getting heroin addicts off of drugs.

One solution that many rehabs and government programs have resorted to is giving heroin addicts methadone. This is a form of opioid drug that is similar to heroin. The idea is that addicts will have their cravings filled by the methadone and will then not want to use heroin anyone. This leaves many wondering what the actual differences are between these two drugs.

Methadone is synthetic, heroin is not

First of all, “opioids” are a class of drug that all have a similar chemical makeup. Heroin is derived from a type of poppy flower that grows well in Asia and the Middle East. While it is an extremely powerful and addictive drug, it is actually chemically very close to the natural product that comes from the plant.

Methadone, on the other hand, is a completely synthetic drug. That means that chemists worked at mixing chemicals together until they were able to design one that was similar enough to heroin that it could take its place in an addict’s body. Just because it is synthetic doesn’t mean that it’s actually safer or better for you. After all, they are both still opioid drugs that can cause overdoses and major bodily injury or death.

Sources of distribution

The biggest difference between the two drugs is probably how they are distributed and who is passing them out. Heroin is an illegal drug that has to be purchased on street corners or from the home of a dealer. You are never going to be able to get it from a reputable source like a doctor.

Methadone is different in that you can actually get prescribed amounts of it from a doctor or at a rehab center. Insurance companies or the government are the ones picking up the tab. Illegal drugs can be very expensive, but using methadone usually means that someone else will be paying to give you this replacement drug.

Method of administration

Heroin users usually prepare a hit of the drug by heating it up in a spoon, loading a syringe and then injecting the drug directly into a vein. This creates an incredibly powerful high, but it is also a dangerous source of potential diseases when addicts begin sharing needles with each other. Addicts gauge how much they want to take and prepare the doses themselves. If something goes wrong, there may be no one around to notice that the addict is overdosing or having a bad reaction.

Methadone is prepared in exact dosages by doctors. It is usually administered through a pill that addicts can swallow or as a liquid mixture that can be drunk. Since doctors are administering the methadone, they can watch for any adverse drug reactions.

While this sounds like it might be a good solution, the problem is that it doesn’t actually help the addict stop using the drug he is addicted to: heroin. If addicts actually want to stop using drugs completely, they need to stop using drug substitutes like methadone. Instead of having a “placeholder” for an addictive drug, rehabs should work on running completely drug-free programs that have the end goal of completely sober graduates. If this isn’t the goal of a rehab you are researching, recognize that you are wasting your time. Find a rehab that really wants to see you clean for the rest of your life!


The Guardian:

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