Getting off Methadone

Methadone is an opiate drug prescribed to patients with moderate to severe chronic pain. Under medical supervision and with prescribed doses, methadone can also be used to help opioid and heroin users overcome addiction. Presented in the form of a pill, liquid or wafer, this drug is meant to be taken once a day to reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms and prevent drug-induced euphoria. Relief can last up to eight hours.

Although viewed as a safe alternative to addiction treatment, methadone can be highly addictive if used incorrectly. It can provide some of the same effects as fellow opioid drugs. Consistent methadone use can result in severe withdrawal symptoms if users attempt to wean from the drug. Without medical support and supervision, methadone detox can be life-threatening.

Getting off Methadone
Because methadone is still considered an opioid, it can be highly addictive and it is not uncommon for addicts to become dependent on methadone while using it to detox from other drugs. Users can experience methadone withdrawal symptoms within 30 hours of the last dose.

Methadone detox affects people differently, and symptoms greatly depend on how long a person has been addicted to methadone, how high their doses have been, and whether or not a person has been weaned off of the drug versus quitting cold turkey. Within the first 30 hours of methadone detox, symptoms may resemble the flu and can become extremely uncomfortable. Some of the first initial symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

After 72 hours of methadone detox, certain symptoms can peak, becoming more severe as the body begins to wean from the drug. More severe symptoms of methadone detox include:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Body shakes
  • Concentration issues
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression

Methadone can remain in your body for up to two weeks after discontinuing the drug, but it may take even longer for a user to feel back to normal. If symptoms become too severe, consult with a medical professional on alternative treatment or better ways to cope with the detox process.

Detoxing at home has become a more common occurrence over the years. While it may provide some comfortability and privacy, home detox can also pose serious health risks and can negatively impact the recovery process.

Detoxing alone or without medical supervision can be dangerous and sometimes fatal when done incorrectly. The withdrawal process is difficult, and it is easy to resort back to old habits and drugs when the pain becomes insurmountable. Without the consistent support, it can be hard to stick to a regimen and resist temptation. This is especially true when withdrawing from methadone since its detox is more extensive.

Many physicians recommend detoxing in a licensed facility because they provide in-patient treatment closely monitored by trained professionals. Struggling users are also provided with substantial medical support and alternatives to treatment. Licensed physicians can prescribe medications to help minimize withdrawal symptoms and they can also help to hold you accountable to your recovery.

Getting off of methadone can be a difficult process, whether quitting cold turkey or gradually tapering off of the drug. Both processes should be done under the supervision of a medical professional who can provide treatment if withdrawal symptoms become too severe.

Tapering off of methadone should not be done alone because users can mismanage doses and unintentionally overdose to relieve withdrawal symptoms. Tapering is a process that gradually reduces the amount of methadone a user takes until their body is no longer dependent. However, this gradual detox process can result in a number of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that could affect recovery. Doctors often prescribe anti-anxiety medication or other alternative medication to alleviate symptoms. Without the proper support and guidance, methadone users can relapse back into substance abuse.

Quitting cold turkey is a decision that could lead to extremely severe withdrawal symptoms. It is not recommended to do alone and without medical supervision. Methadone detox symptoms are the most severe the first week of quitting cold turkey. However, withdrawal symptoms can last for much longer since the drug remains in the body for up to two weeks. It is important for users to seek professional help if they decide to quit methadone cold turkey so they are provided support and medical attention if conditions do not improve.

Methadone addiction can lead to a long road of health and psychological issues, and detoxification can be all the more dangerous if done alone. If you or someone you know is struggling with methadone addiction, The Recovery Village is ready to help guide you to the best treatment. With our trained medical professionals and individualized support, you will learn to resist cravings and begin your recovery. Don’t go another day without treatment. Your journey starts today.
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015, September 28). Methadone. Retrieved from

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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