Since 2001, methadone has been linked to more deaths involving Florida teens younger than 18 than any other drug more than OxyContin, Xanax, of cocaine, reports the Palm Beach Post. The deaths of 48 teens younger than 18 were linked to methadone in 2001-2004, compared with 33 linked to oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin, according to reports from medical examiners. More doctors are prescribing methadone to treat pain as an alternative to OxyContin, which has been linked to thousands of deaths statewide involving people who had legitimate prescriptions for the medication and those who were abusing it, including teens.
Methadone comes in pills, wafers, vials that can be injected and syrups that are taken orally. When taken under a doctor’s supervision, it is considered a relatively safe painkiller. There is no uniform standard for methadone; every person reacts to the drug differently, said Bruce Goldberger of the William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida. That makes the drug particularly volatile to someone abusing it, especially if they’re doing it for the first time. “Kids are very susceptible because they have no tolerance” to the drug, Goldberger said, adding that a small amount of the drug could be lethal for one person but barely have an effect on someone else.