Street terms: Methadone Mixture, linctus, meth, Physeptone

Methadone Hydrochloride is an opioid (a synthetic opiate) that was originally synthesised by the German pharmaceutical company Axis during the second world war.

It was first marketed as ‘Dolophine’ and was used as an analgesic (a painkiller) for the treatment of severe pain. It is still occasionally used for pain relief, although it is more widely used now as a substitute drug for people addicted to other opiates (primarily heroin).

Methadone is usually available as a green coloured liquid – linctus or methadone mixture – which should be swallowed. Tablets and injectable ampoules are sometimes prescribed, and like many other medicines some of these prescribed drugs are diverted and become available illegally.

When methadone is prescribed to people addicted to other opiates (primarily heroin), the guidelines for the dosage are that enough should be given to prevent physical withdrawal symptoms – when you are prescribed methadone it is not supposed to give you a buzz, or get you high. If you take methadone orally (mixture or linctus), it will take around thirty minutes before you feel the effects. If you are using injectable methadone (Physeptone) then the drug takes effect much more rapidly.

Methadone is controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a schedule 2 drug, that is a substance considered to have medical therapeutic use, and legal to possess only if prescribed by a doctor, and then only if taken in accordance with the doctor’s instructions. Methadone is a Class A drug