Brand name: Physeptone

Street name: Meth, Phy

Description: White scored tablet marked 'Wellcome' (5mg.), 1ml ampoules (10mg/ml.), Mixture (1mg/1ml.), Linctus (2mg/5ml.)

Therapeutic use: Severe pain and opiate dependence. Cough in terminal illness.

Street use: By mouth or injecting crushed tablets, linctus or ampoules. Injection of linctus is rare.

Drug effect: Painkiller and depressant

Dependency: Yes

Withdrawal: The effects of methadone last up to 24 hours, which is longer than heroin. Withdrawal symptoms are slower to develop but last longer. Flu – like symptoms appear up to 2 days after the last dose, peak after 5 or 6 days and fade after 14 days. Sleeplessness may last for longer. It has been suggested that withdrawal is more difficult than from heroin.

Long-term use: Can result in constipation, breathing difficulties, irregular periods (menstrual cycle). If injected – risk of infection/circulatory problems.

Overdose risk: Deaths from the use of methadone alone are relatively infrequent. However, the overdose risk increases after a period of abstinence or if methadone is mixed with other drugs such as benzodiazapines or alcohol.

Legal status: Methadone is a prescription only medicine and is a Class A controlled drug. This means it is an offence to possess the drug without a prescription and to supply it to others.

Maximum penalty:

For possession: Seven years and/or unlimited fine

For dealing: Life and/or unlimited fine