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The History of Using Methadone for Drug Addiction Treatment

Since 1985 Pat Moore Foundation has been a recovery community that specializes in oxycodone and opiate addiction treatment programs. Over the past 25 years we provided the following information guide to Pat Moore Foundation family and friends, and for those seeking helpful and insightful information on opiates, including addiction and abuse. 

What is the history of using Methadone for Drug Addiction Treatment?

Methadone was first synthesized in Nazi Germany during WWII when the supply of opium was cut off by the war. Those inside Hitler’s regime who were addicted to opium instructed chemists to create a replacement drug. The result was Methadone. Methadone actually proved to work better than poppy-based opiates in that they lasted much longer. Consequently, it soon became used to manage addiction to other opiates like heroin, which only lasted a few hours and required repeated doses.

Following WWII, there was an outbreak of heroin addition in the US, specifically in New York City. In the mid-60s, methadone maintenance treatment began as a way to curb illicit opiate use and the subsequent social consequences such as disease transmission and criminality. To its credit, methadone treatment did produce positive results for many years.

Recent years, however, have called the success of methadone detox into question. Because methadone effects are so similar to heroin, methadone pills are often diverted from methadone clinics and other legitimate uses to the black market. Methadone is cheaper than most other opiate drugs and produces the same euphoric effects. Additionally, methadone addiction is just as difficult to over come as addiction to any other opiate. Some report that detoxing off methadone is even more difficult than detoxing off heroin.

The abundant supply of methadone in the marketplace has contributed to the abuse of this drug. Between 2001 and 2006, distribution to pharmacies, hospitals and practitioners increased by 250 percent. Diversion from these legitimate sources has increased the illicit supply. Some patients even sell their prescribed pills to others. Fighting the new epidemic of methadone addiction has become the task of drug treatment and rehabilitation centers.


Click here for the next part in the series, “The Dangers of Methadone Therapy.” Click here to return to the first part in the series, “Introduction to Methadone.”

Pat Moore Foundation’s drug & alcohol detox and alcohol & drug addiction treatment programs are licensed and certified by The State of California. We provide non-medical and medically managed detoxification (using Suboxone, Subutex, and Buprenorphine when appropriate) and primary residential treatment. Our individual homes are on a unique co-ed campus where we offer gender specific treatment. We are located in Costa Mesa, in Orange County, Southern California, close to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, and only an hour’s drive from Los Angeles and San Diego. To speak with a counselor, please call us 24-hours at (888) 426-6086 or if you’d like us to contact you, send a confidential message online by filling out our online form.

Note: All medical services are administered by medical professionals, which are facilitated and operated solely under the jurisdiction of a separate medical corporation.