Methadone, A New Killer
By Harriet Steinberg
Mar 4, 2007 - 9:24:00 PM

LOS ANGELESMethadone, which is a drug, comes in pill form as well as in liquid. This is a potent drug used to treat heroin addicts. It is believed that it is this drug that may have killed former Playboy model, Anna Nicole Smith. It is being used by doctors as a pain medicine and for those who are drug users. 

A Studio City doctor prescribed methadone to Smith for pain before she was found dead. A coroner is still trying to find out the cause of Smith's death. It is said that Smith's doctor's treatment was medically appropriate. Patients and addicts are mixing methadone with other drugs as Smith's son had done. Her son was 20 years old when he died after taking a lethal amount of methadone and two anti-depressants: Zoloft and Lexapro. Methadone is a synthetic opiate which is similar to heroin in chemistry. However, the effects of methadone is different than that of opiates. It curbs the user's craving for illegal drugs by blocking the sensors that heroin stimulates.

Recently, many drug addicts are taking methadone in conjunction with prescription drugs such as Valium, Xanax, or illegal drugs such as cocaine. A director of toxicology at one of the universities said that every year hundreds of deaths occur due to the mixture of methadone along with other drugs. He said that it is the fastest growing drug problem today. Physicians say that methadone's potential for abuse is not as high as that of opiates like heroin because it does not induce a strong euphoria when used alone.

Doctors say that repetitive use of methadone can cause a dependence on the drug, and when an individual stops taking the drug, withdrawal-like symptoms can occur.

This drug can be lethal when mixed with anti-depressants or grapefruit juice. The drug can linger in the body for over 48 hours. Users assume that it has worn off so they go ahead taking other drugs which can lead to depression, coma and eventual death.

It is reported that in parts of downtown, East and South Los Angeles, there are places where it is easy to buy and sell methadone. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to all physicians saying that misuse of the drug can lead to breathing problems and possible death. 

Unfortunately, methadone is one of those cheap and easy things to get right now and as availability of the drug increases, so does abuse and misuse of it increase.


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