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The History Of Methadone

Methadone is a handmade drug and was invented in Germany during the Second World War. The scientists behind methadone had discovered pethidine some years earlier and had been developing something using similar compounds. Although invented during the War, methadone wasn’t brought into commercial production until some time after. When it was first invented it was given the name Polamidon.

After the War had ended the factory where methadone (as we now know it) was invented came under American control and so it was they who carried out the first trials of the drug in 1947. The American pharmaceutical company who took control of the trials, Eli-Lilly, renamed it Dolophine (not after Adolf Hitler as was first believed). It was most likely named after a combination of words; the Latin word dolor means pain and the French word fin means end.
At first it was viewed by many as a breakthrough in medicine and hailed as a revolutionary new painkiller. However by the early 1950s it was hardly being used at all. It wasn’t until 1964 that Doctor Vincent Dole, an expert in metabolic disorders, and Doctor Marie Nyswander, a psychiatrist who had worked at the U.S. Public Health Hospital/Prison for addicts in Lexington, Kentucky, discovered methadone’s true purpose. Along with the assistance of Mary Jeanne Kreek, in New York’s Rockefeller University they had begun conducting experiments with several heroin addicts. Upon trying to discover an aid for heroin users they happened to read about methadone in medical literature. They soon found that methadone could act as a potential substitute for heroin.
They had given the volunteers nearly everything to cope with the withdrawal symptoms from morphine to dilaudid, but found that it was extremely difficult to stabilise the subjects. The doctors were close to ending their experiment and concluding that it had been a failure. After deciding this they thought of detoxing the patients before releasing them from hospital. This is when they turned to methadone. After their intake of methadone the patients displayed very different behaviour to when they were on the other medicated narcotics. Their focus changed away from drugs completely whereas before they all continually complained of their desire for more narcotics.
The doctors’ studies eventually proved to change opinion that drug addiction was merely a character flaw, but rather a disorder that needed to be treated like any other disease.
Methadone maintenance treatment was thus born.


  • MICHAEL G. said:


  • Daniel Jose said:

    Methadone is really effective in treatment of opium addiction. It helps people who have tried and failed other methods. Methadone is not addicting, its cheap and with almost 100% effectiveness compared to other methods.

  • Robert Wagner said:

    I have been on Methadone for a few years now. It is not because of a drug problem I had, it was a pain management issue. I tried literally everything there is for pain, and I mean everything at all doses. Methadone was the only one that made my life livable, without the feeling of being high or just zombied out for the entire day. This helped with the pain and allowed me to live my life in the normal professional world. When I was on Morphine, or Dilaudid, and all the other big names, Methadone was the one that saved my life. I had lost everything when I got hurt and could not get back on track because I was always so buzzed out of my mind I couldn\’t make a good decision if my life depended on it. Now I am of clear mind, sharp quick decision making and my razor sharp whit is back. LOL. The only problem I have with Methadone, everybody thinks you are a drug addict right off the bat. And when you explain it\’s for pain management they try to explain to you that Methadone isn\’t used for pain just drug addiction. I of course laugh and ask if they just started in the medical field. They usually get angry, oh well! After I give them the story of how it was created and why the usually feel like an ass.

  • Vern said:

    It was methadone that eventually helped me kick heroin. But I remember the head nurse that God put in my life that day, and what she said to me. Do not get involved in a long term program or maintenance program, she told me that methadone was just as bad for you as heroin. Now grant you it took me 4 times to finally kick and stay kicked. But if you look at the history of methadone in the USA, it really wasn’t introduced until 1964, The Johnson Administration thought it was a good idea on how to keep addicts from stealing and hurting innocent people. They had no concern at all for the addicts health or long term effects on humans.

  • Eric said:

    …noticed a post stating Methadone isn’t addictive. I have to disagree. Methadone is great for keeping an addict off opiates and does relieve pain. At correct dosage, craving and withdrawal symptoms are nil. An addict will feel “normal” without being high, allowing the chance of a better, once again “normal” existence. HOWEVER, to stop taking Methadone is to experience a withdrawal journey that FAR exceeds any other abused narcotic withdrawal experience. PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!! The “clinic” will not give you false facts about Methadone, you just don’t get the entire story. Mainly the fact that you’ll probably be on Methadone the rest of your life unless you are prepared and able to withstand the utter sickness of Methadone withdrawal. If one can afford and has access to the treatment and has no objection to being on another drug for the rest of their life, Methadone succeeds in giving an addict a new lease on life without being high. Also, as noted, it is a pain reliever.

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