Methadone Withdrawal and Detox

While methadone can help a person deal with addictions to drugs like heroin or other prescription painkillers, it also very addictive . Becoming dependent on methadone is common with long term methadone use, and if an individual with a dependency stops taking it, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. While there are withdrawal symptoms affiliated with methadone, they’re typically not as severe as what’s seen with the use of other opioids, like heroin. However minimal the symptoms may be, the best way to alleviate the severity of methadone withdrawal symptoms is through a gradual reduction in dosage.
When a person attempts to detox and stops using opiates, the withdrawal process isn’t always  life-threatening, but detoxing from methadone is an exception to that trend. If people took methadone in large quantities or over long periods of time, stopping the intake of the drug can lead to breathing difficulties, heart problems or seizures. A supervised withdrawal at a legitimate detoxification facility is the best way to make sure that the person seeking treatment is properly taken care of. By detoxing from  methadone in the safest environment possible, people avoid the possibility of experiencing deadly health problems brought on by withdrawing from methadone on their own.

Methadone misuse represents a unique problem regarding drug addiction and treatment because the drug is often used to help heroin addicts, as well as people who are addicted to other opiates, stop misusing drugs by alleviating the withdrawal symptoms that can trigger relapses during detox attempts. However, sometimes what happens is that the people using methadone to help quit one drug then become addicted to the methadone itself.

When a methadone addiction is recognized, someone attempting to stop methadone usage should know that there are withdrawal medications that can help ease their detox process.Buprenorphine and Suboxone are synthetic drugs like methadone. Their usage can lessen methadone withdrawal symptoms and reduce the length of the withdrawal process . These medications are designed to help patients remain comfortable during the withdrawal, which in turn lessens the risk of relapse.

Clonidine is a medication that is often used to reduce the emotional symptoms that can occur  during opioid withdrawal. Clonidine use can reduce anxiety and agitation, and it’s also beneficial for physical symptoms like aches and runny noses.

During the withdrawal process, Zofran is sometimes used to treat physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea and vomiting. This also benefits the patient as they can avoid the dehydration that would result from excessive vomiting.

Baclofen is used to alleviate muscle aches, pains and spasms to make the patient more comfortable. By negating these symptoms, the patient can then focus on the mental challenges of withdrawal and detoxing, rather than being continually distracted by the physical discomfort.

Following detox treatment, Naltrexone may be used to help patients by reducing cravings and blocking the euphoric effect of opioids. Naltrexone use works to build a strong foundation for beginning recovery, as the chance of setbacks occurring is diminished

Attempting to detox from methadone at-home  can not only be uncomfortable but also dangerous. First, methadone is a medication that needs to be carefully regulated and controlled by a healthcare professional in order to prevent overdose or other serious side effects that can occur from mismanaging the drug.

Along with physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, and vomiting, there can also be mental symptoms such as anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. At home, the individual will have to handle these symptoms without the proper care and supervision that medical professionals at a certified rehab facility would provide.

Detoxing from methadone “cold turkey” is not a recommended practice, particularly if the individual is a long term or heavy user. Withdrawal symptoms that come with long term or heavy drug misuse can be severe and trying to quit cold turkey can not only lead to extreme physical and emotional discomfort, but it’s more likely that setbacks occur.

Every person who uses methadone to assist with drug treatment should do so while under the supervision of a doctor. This can help prevent life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms can begin within 30 hours of the last time a person took the drug. The withdrawal process with methadone is slow and may last for a few weeks or longer. Some of the symptoms that come with methadone withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Teary eyes or a runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Insomnia

When someone experiences the first signs of a methadone withdrawal, it can feel like having the flu. Specific symptoms of  methadone withdrawal can peak at around three days and can include muscle aches and pain, severe nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, cravings and depression.

Within about 36 hours after the last use of methadone, many people start to experience withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal process can vary from days to weeks. The longer someone used methadone for, the slower the tapering process is since they will need more time to gradually rid the drug’s toxins from their body. Shorter, less severe addictions do not need very extensive tapering processes. Tapering is when the body is gradually weaned off of the drug in question to ensure a calmer and healthier withdrawal.

During the first few days following the last dosage of methadone, some symptoms are likely to include rapid heartbeat, clamminess, cold sweats and chills. During this time, some of the most uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms may begin and can include physical symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, as well as anxiety.

Usually, around the tenth day in the withdrawal process is when the severe symptoms start declining. This is known as the acute methadone withdrawal stage. During this time, emotional symptoms, like agitation, can appear and physical symptoms, like nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, may remain but they should lessen in severity at this point.

The stage after acute withdrawal is post-acute withdrawal. Many of the post-acute withdrawal symptoms are emotional and can include depression, irritability and anxiety. Difficulty concentrating and fatigue are symptoms that are likely to remain, and cravings for the drug can persist at this point, but symptoms like nausea and vomiting should disappear by this point in the detoxification process.

The length of a methadone withdrawal depends on several different factors: the length depends on the dosage consumed, the form of consumption, the length of time that the drug was taken and the severity of the addiction. If someone took methadone for three months, their withdrawal can be significantly different than someone who misused it for a year. Their withdrawals will be different in terms of symptoms experienced, the severity of the symptoms and how long of a withdrawal is experienced.
When someone is looking to treat their methadone addiction or looking for methadone success stories, they’ll likely come across a variety of possible scenarios. When someone is prescribed methadone, their doctor can then help them handle their drug misuse disorder successfully.

When a doctor prescribed methadone to a patient, they work with the patient to gradually lower their dosage amount over time, successfully tapering the patient off the drug. Tapering off  methadone is a good way to hinder some of the most severe symptoms including anxiety, aches, and nausea, as well as cravings for other opioids.

In some cases, other medications such as buprenorphine can be used to treat an opioid dependency. Doctors can prescribe buprenorphine for people as they transition from a methadone dependency since it’s a partial opioid. Suboxone is one type of buprenorphine.

When people wonder what to expect when detoxing with Suboxone or general buprenorphine therapy, it’s usually somewhat easier than simply tapering off methadone. This is because buprenorphine and Suboxone bind to the opioid receptor, which is where all other opiates bind to.

Buprenorphine therapy can be utilized successfully, in some instances, to assist in the process of tapering off opioids. Buprenorphine therapy can also work for some people because it tends to have less of an impact in how they feel overall. For example, it can help them feel less medicated and more normalized as compared to the effects of methadone.

With buprenorphine therapy or by utilizing Suboxone, there is a much lower likelihood of overdose as compared to utilizing methadone, and there’s less potential for dependence with these medications.

The federal government outlines treatment guidelines for methadone as well as buprenorphine therapy, and the requirements tend to be less stringent for buprenorphine as compared to methadone. For example, patients can get take-home prescriptions of buprenorphine regardless of whether they’ve had a period of negative drug and alcohol tests. During a standard detox from methadone:

  • Peak withdrawal symptoms can take up to 72 hours to be experienced
  • Patients can work with the prescribing doctor to reduce the doses gradually
  • Doses can be reduced to as low as 2 mg
  • Anxiety, muscle aches, nausea and flu-like symptoms can occur

During a detox from methadone with the help buprenorphine/suboxone:

  • Buprenorphine/suboxone can be taken home, rather than the methadone, which is taken in a structured, clinical setting
  • Withdrawal symptoms can be lessened
  • Methadone can be prevented from binding to receptor sites
  • Other medications can be used in conjunction with buprenorphine/suboxone, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Although, it is still recommended to take all of these together with the supervision of a doctor
A high dose methadone detox is very similar to a smaller dose methadone detox. However, extra assistance may be recommended. When the dosage taken is higher, the chances of severe withdrawal symptoms are present. When high doses of methadone are taken, the chance of an overdose occurring is also a possibility. To prevent either of these from occurring, it is important to work with medical professionals to ensure a safe and healthy detox. Working with doctors allows the proper form of detox to be determined so it will be most effective toward recovery. For additional help after detox, The Recovery Village offers inpatient and outpatient programs to help assist patients with forming the skills needed to prevent setbacks from occurring.
The Recovery Village has detox centers across the country to help individuals looking to detox from  methadone and begin a drug-free life. The facilities each offer unique programs to help patients with their individual situations. These facility locations include:

  • The Recovery Village: The Recovery Village, located in Umatilla, Florida, offers outpatient, partial hospitalization and inpatient treatment for patients.
  • The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake: Located in Colorado, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers inpatient, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs for people looking to manage their addiction to methadone.
  • The Recovery Village Columbus: The Recovery Village Columbus in Ohio offers intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization and inpatient treatment programs for those beginning recovery.
  • The Recovery Ridgefield: Located in Washington, The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers outpatient and aftercare programs.
  • Orlando Recovery Center: Found right in the heart of Orlando, the Orlando Recovery Center helps patients who are not just struggling to fight their addiction, but helps them with their mental health. This center offers inpatient, outpatient and partial hospitalization programs.
  • IAFF Center of Excellence: This special center in Maryland serves firefighters and first responders struggling with PTSD, addiction and other behavioral health concerns. The IAFF Center of Excellence offers inpatient, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs.
  • Next Generation Village: This Florida facility focuses primarily on assisting adolescents looking to manage their addictions. Next Generation Village offers intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization and inpatient programs to assist with recovery.
  • Next Step Village: Another facility based in Florida, Next Step Village, works to help people transition into life after treatment. This center also offers outpatient and intensive outpatient programs to those looking for additional assistance.

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.


Share on Social Media: