Methadone hydrochloride stays in the body for much longer than other opioids. How long it can be detected by a drug test depends on what is being tested.

Methadone hydrochloride is an opioid drug that is generally used in opioid addiction treatment. When used as directed, it can ease withdrawal symptoms without creating a euphoric high.

People undergoing medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder or those who are misusing this drug may benefit from knowing how long it can stay in the body.

How Long Does Methadone Hydrochloride Stay In Your Urine, Hair and Blood?

Methadone has its own drug test but may show up as an opioid on a general drug test. Methadone hydrochloride can also be detected on a drug test for longer than most other drugs. The detection window is based on what’s being tested:

  • Urine: Methadone is usually detectable for up to 3–5 days. This can be higher for people who heavily use the drug or have used it for a long time.
  • Blood: A blood test might show positive results for methadone for up to 5–130 hours after its last use. The variable detection window with blood tests is one reason they’re not the preferred drug testing method.
  • Hair: In a hair follicle test, methadone can show up for up to 90 days, which is consistent for most drugs.

Half-Life of Methadone

The half-life of a drug is how long it takes for half of it to leave the body. Methadone’s half-life is long at around 24 hours, but it can vary from 8–59 hours depending on the dose. It usually takes around five half-lives for a drug to leave the system of a patient, so methadone will stay in the individual’s body for a relatively long time.

It should also be noted that the half-life range for methadone can vary significantly. For some people, the half-life of methadone can be as short as eight hours and as long as 59 hours.

Factors That Influence How Long Methadone Stays In Your System

There is a large range when it comes to the half-life of methadone. A lot of this range is based on patient factors that influence metabolism.

Some people can metabolize certain drugs faster than others based on their genetics. Larger people, healthier people and younger people also tend to eliminate drugs like methadone hydrochloride more quickly. People with chronic health conditions or organ function impairment may eliminate drugs more slowly.

Is Methadone Hydrochloride Safe?

When methadone is used as part of a treatment plan and is taken as prescribed, it’s considered a safe medication. However, methadone works similarly to other opioids, so there is a potential for misuse and addiction. A physician has to prescribe methadone, and it must be provided under a specific program that’s carefully supervised.

After some time, people may be able to take methadone on their own within certain programs or states. At first, however, patients can only receive methadone in a clinical setting. Methadone can only be dispensed through an opioid treatment program (OTP) certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Some people may require methadone treatment for a year or more, sometimes indefinitely.

Methadone Hydrochloride Regulations

A physician has to have additional certification to prescribe methadone hydrochloride. Methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S. This means methadone hydrochloride and other versions of the drug have a high risk of misuse and dependence.

Using methadone without a prescription is illegal. Professionals who are licensed to prescribe methadone have to undergo specific training and receive certifications through SAMHSA’s Division of Pharmacologic Therapies.

How Methadone Hydrochloride Affects the Brain and Body

When someone uses methadone hydrochloride (whether it’s prescribed for pain, addiction, or they’re using it illegally), it affects opioid receptors in the brain. Methadone is a CNS depressant.

Methadone exerts its action by being an opioid agonist, which means it activates opioid receptors. The effects of methadone are slower than other opioids, however. When someone uses it as prescribed, it works more slowly than other opiates, and while it can provide pain relief, it doesn’t create euphoria.

At high doses, individuals who use methadone can experience euphoria. The physical and psychological effects of methadone are similar to other opioids. For example, methadone hydrochloride can cause drowsiness, dry mouth and gastrointestinal symptoms.

It’s possible to overdose on methadone as well. Symptoms of a methadone overdose can include changes in respiration and heart rate, fainting, seizures and death.

If you or a loved one is misusing methadone hydrochloride or taking it any way other than prescribed, it could be a sign of a rare methadone addiction. The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us to discuss your situation and whether treatment can help.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “The ASAM National Practice Guideline for[…]2020 Focused Update.” December 18, 2019. Accessed October 1, 2021.

Drug Enforcement Administration. “Controlled Substances — Alphabetical Order.” August 27, 2021. Accessed October 1, 2021. Gryczynski, Jan; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-repor[…]sk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, August 1, 2014. Accessed October 1, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.