How Long Does it Take to Detox From Methadone?

Detoxing from methadone is a process that takes a period of time under medical monitoring and working with a professional.  Stopping the use of methadone abruptly or without the help of a medical professional can result in extremely unpleasant and potentially life-threatening complications.

With the assistance of a professional, a proper taper protocol can be effective and manageable to come off of methadone.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Similar to other opioid withdrawal symptoms, methadone withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Shivering and goose flesh
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • GI upset
  • Drug cravings

Due to methadone being long-acting, it may take up to 2 to 4 days for withdrawal symptoms to begin.  It could take 7-14 days for symptoms to disappear completely.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWs) can be especially challenging for someone coming off of methadone.  Post-acute withdrawal is the presence of some withdrawal symptoms that are typically less acute than the symptoms experienced during the initial withdrawal period.  These symptoms can last from 6 months to 2 years.  These symptoms can include:

  • Irritability or aggression
  • Depression or sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Chronic pain

Taper

Whether you’ve been on methadone for a long period of time or a short period of time, a taper protocol is the best way to come off of methadone.  A taper means to decrease doses in a scheduled time period.  The prescribing physician will develop a taper schedule based on what is most appropriate for you, your current dose and how long you’ve been on methadone.  It’s important to follow the taper schedule and recommendations of your provider in order to avoid any adverse symptoms from detoxing too quickly.

Medical Detox

A medical detox in a treatment facility can assist in the process of detoxing or tapering methadone.  The physicians in the facility will be able to monitor your symptoms and vitals during the process and can also prescribe non-narcotic medication to assist in relieving some of the symptoms that may present as a result of the detox.

As part of a medical detox, clients are engaged in clinical treatment in order to begin to address the underlying issues for their addiction.

On-going Care and Support

Because of the withdrawal process and presence of PAWs with methadone detox, it’s important that someone engage in continued care beyond just the initial detox process.  In order for someone to get proper support through this process, they should engage in residential treatment after detox, followed by continued outpatient care.  This clinical care can offer support when someone feels triggered or wants to use, and also offer the tools and resources necessary to explore the addiction and underlying issues.

Whether you’ve been on methadone for a long or short period of time, it is possible to come off of it with the proper support and medical assistance.  Although the process of withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal can sound daunting, scary or impossible to get through, it is possible to effectively and safely detox from methadone with the right support.