Problems with other drugs have led doctors increasingly to prescribe methadone as a painkiller, allowing more of it to trickle into the hands of people who might abuse it, says the Reno Gazette-Journal. Toxicology reports issued this week said that two Douglas County, Nv., teens died after using it in July at Lake Tahoe. “This is a drug that is somewhat miscast,” said Dr. Ian Buxton, pharmacology professor at the University of Nevada Medical School. “People have assumed because it is used to treat an addiction like heroin, it by itself is a drug that cannot produce a problem.”
Heroin can give an immediate rush and sense of well being; methadone acts over a longer period and does not give the same high. “Methadone was thought not to produce these effects, and it was thought not to produce these problems,” Buxton said. “We’ve learned now that was absolutely wrong.” Buxton said first-time users are considered “naive” to the drug, and a dose considered safe for an experienced user or for a recovering heroin addict could be lethal to naive users.