Methadone is the most successful, well-researched and cost-effective treatment for opiate dependence.
Although it is available in both liquid and tablet forms, the Victorian pharmacotherapy program uses the liquid form alone (except in instances of limited overseas travel).
There are two brands of methadone liquid: Methadone Syrup and Biodone Forte. Their contents and strength are the same.
Basic Pharmacology of Methadone
Methadone is a full opiate agonist. The higher the dose, the greater the opiate effect.
If too much methadone is consumed, breathing and heart rate will gradually slow, leading eventually to unconsciousness and death.
Other full opiate agonist drugs include heroin, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, pethidine etc.
When a client begins taking methadone, the doctor will prescribe a safe, low dose which can be adjusted as required until no feelings of opiate withdrawal are experienced for the full twenty-four hours between doses. If doses are missed or other opiates are used, it will take longer to stabilise on a daily dose.
Methadone Take-Away Doses
For the first two months of treatment, clients must attend each day for their dose. After this, if the client is considered stable, some takeaway doses may be prescribed, see below for further details:
after two months of continuous treatment and considered stable (on the correct dose and not missing doses) – eligible for up to 2 take away doses per week
after six months of continuous treatment and considered stable (on the correct dose and not missing doses) – eligible for up to 4 take away doses per week