Methadone treatment is an example of harm reduction assistance. In such programmes, opiate users are placed on a daily dose of oral methadone so that they no longer need to access illicit opioids such as heroin or morphine derivatives.

There are two immediate advantages that come from this. The first is that the user no longer has to inject him or herself, so there is a substantial health gain involved. The second is that by getting methadone from a legal source, the user now has the option of living life without the financial problems often associated with acquiring illicit drugs. In this way, methadone provides dependent opiate users with the opportunity to move away from a criminal lifestyle and ‘normalise’ their lives.

Methadone is a prescription medication; so the treatment is delivered either by specialist addiction services or authorised general practitioners supported by specialist addiction services. Medication is generally administered or dispensed in community pharmacies.