Methadone Detox: Dealing with Methadone Withdrawal

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Methadone is a prescription drug primarily used to treat opioid use disorder (opioid addiction. The medication can also be prescribed to help manage severe pain.

While methadone was approved by the FDA in 1947 and can be highly effective from promoting abstinence from opioids, the substance can also be addictive.

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If you develop physical dependence to methadone, you will experience intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you discontinue use. If you have been searching for “methadone detox near me”, this guide will help you to establish the safest and most comfortable way of withdrawing from this Schedule II controlled substance.

Understanding Methadone Withdrawal

Methadone withdrawal involves the presentation of adverse effects when you discontinue use of this long-acting opioid analgesic. 

When methadone is used as one component of MAT (medication-assisted treatment) that includes psychotherapy and counseling, benefits may include: 

  • Reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Decrease cravings for opioids
  • Induce cross-tolerance to other type of opioids, blocking the effects of narcotics like heroin, hydrocodone, and oxycodone

Like all substances under Schedule II of the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) methadone has medical utility but can be addictive, particularly in high doses. 

When methadone is taken regularly, tolerance to the opioid forms rapidly. When this occurs, the effects of methadone are diminished, leading many people to take more of the substance, or to take more frequent doses, or perhaps combining with other drugs, like methadone and alcohol. Abusing methadone in this way is likely to hasten the development of physical dependence. 

If you become dependent on a drug like methadone, your body will struggle to function normally in its absence. In response, intense physical and mental withdrawal symptoms will manifest.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone withdrawal symptoms are similar to the symptoms associated with other opioids like heroin, morphine, and hydrocodone. As a long-acting opioid, methadone remains in the system for longer than short-acting opioids such as codeine and oxycodone. 

The most common symptoms tend to be moderate and like the symptoms of influenza. These include: 

  • Cravings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach cramps
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

The more severe the methadone addiction, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms. Methadone detox is also liable to be more protracted if you are addicted to more than one substance. 

It is never advisable to stop using methadone abruptly. The cold turkey method will trigger more severe side effects. What is the best way to safely detox from methadone, then?

An image of a woman who is experiencing anxiety as a result of the withdraw symptoms of a methadone detox

How to Detox from Methadone

The safest and smoothest pathway to methadone detox involves engaging with a supervised medical detox program. 

If you withdraw from methadone at a licensed medical detox center under close supervision, you can reduce your dosage of methadone over a period of several weeks. A tapered reduction mitigates the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. WHO (World Health Organization) recommends reducing the dosage of methadone by 5mg to 10mg per week. This taper should continue until you reach a 40mg dose of methadone. From this point, the taper should slow to no more than 5mg per week. 

If withdrawal symptoms present during a tapered methadone reduction, the following medications are recommended by ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine): 

  • Loperamide (for treating diarrhea)
  • Benzodiazepines (for treating short-term anxiety)
  • Clonidine (for treating opioid withdrawal symptoms)
  • Ondansetron (for treating nausea and vomiting)
  • Tylenol or Advil (for treating aches and pains)

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Methadone?

When detoxing from methadone, the first withdrawal symptoms normally present within a day of the last use. Methadone may remain in the system for up to 60 hours. In some cases, methadone withdrawal symptoms may not manifest for several days after last using the drug. 

In most cases, methadone withdrawal lasts for between three and six weeks. The process tends to take longer as the methadone addiction becomes more severe.

The most acute symptoms present during the first seven to ten days. Over the next few weeks, symptoms will subside.

While all cases of methadone detox are different, here is a typical timeline for methadone withdrawal: 

  • Days 1 and 2 of methadone detox: Physical symptoms like fever, chills, muscle aches, and rapid heartbeat will present during the first two days of methadone detox.
  • Days 3 to 8 of methadone detox: Powerful cravings for methadone will persist for a week or so. Irritability and anxiety may be accompanied by physical flu-like symptoms. Depression, vomiting, and cramps may also occur during this phase of methadone detox.
  • Days 9 to 15 of methadone detox: As you approach the second week of methadone detox, there may be some residual symptoms like diarrhea, physical discomfort, and irritability. Strong cravings and episodes of depression may occur at this point of methadone withdrawal.
  • Ongoing methadone withdrawal: Anxiety, cravings, insomnia, and low energy levels usually linger for two to three weeks after discontinuing use of methadone. After the three to six week process of methadone detox is over, some people may experience PAWS (post-acute withdrawal symptoms) that continue for up to two years. PAWS include depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, impaired focus, and anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure).
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Get Addiction Help at California Detox

While methadone can be an effective component of an opioid addiction treatment plan, taking this substance long-term may cause physical dependence and addiction. If you require help combating methadone addiction, we can help you at California Detox in Laguna Beach

Our supervised medical detox program allows you to take advantage of a tapered reduction in dosage. This should streamline most of the withdrawal symptoms associated with methadone detox. When you detox methadone at California Detox, this will address the issue of physical dependence. Transition into ongoing treatment to tackle the psychological aspect of opioid addiction. We offer treatment programs at all levels of intensity, including: 

  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • OPs (outpatient programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (for co-occurring disorders)

All opioid addictions are unique, so your treatment team will create a customized treatment plan that may include: 

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies

Addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain condition, so your California Detox treatment team will equip you with a robust aftercare plan to maximize your chances of sustained recovery from methadone addiction. Call 949.390.5377 today for immediate assistance.


Yes, methadone is typically tapered or weaned gradually under close medical supervision. This can mitigate withdrawal symptoms and streamline the safe cessation of use. The tapering schedule and duration of the taper will depend on factors including duration of use, dose, and overall health.
Methadone can trigger negative effects as well as helping to alleviate withdrawal symptoms in those addicted to opioids. The sustained use of methadone may bring about changes in heart rate. Long-term methadone use may also cause liver damage and reduced hormonal functioning. Methadone, like all opioids, can cause the development of physical dependence characterized by methadone withdrawal symptoms if use is discontinued too abruptly.


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