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Methadone gains popularity, but remains risky


NEW YORK While it has been used to treat heroin addicts for decades, the opiate derivative methadone has lately become popular for treating pain.

The drug is effective and cheap, but also dangerous if used improperly.

It has become a leading cause of narcotic-related death, according to The New York Times, outpacing other commonly abused prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 41,216 emergency room visits resulted from misuse of the drug in 2005.

Many doctors don’t understand that the body metabolizes methadone slowly, and patients differ in response to the drug, the Times reported.

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