The Pharmacological Rationale for Methadone Treatment of Narcotic Addiction

  • R. G. Newman


Despite over a quarter-century of remarkably consistent reports from throughout the world of favorable results with the use of methadone to treat heroin addiction, this modality remains exceedingly controversial. Even among those who utilize methadone in caring for addicts, there is intense debate over optimal dosages, duration of treatment and other aspects of the medical care which is rendered. Ironically, the polarization seems to reflect a misunderstanding of the basis pharmacological rationale for methadone treatment.

In this paper the pharmacological principles which apply to narcotics in general, and to methadone in particular, are presented. It will be noted that the effects (and, in maintained patients, the lack of effect with respect to euphoria) of methadone are absolutely free of any controversy. Physicians and policy-makers must be guided by these straight-forward, unequivocal pharmacological properties in determining how methadone should be utilized in the management of patients with a chronic, potentially deadly illness.


Methadone Treatment Withdrawal Symptom Tolerance Level Addiction Treatment Dependence Level 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. G. Newman
    • 1
  1. 1.Beth Israel Medical CenterNew York CityUSA

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