Methadone is a powerful prescription opioid that was developed in Germany during World War II as a strong pain reliever. It is still prescribed for severe pain, and it is also used as a medical detox treatment to help people who experience withdrawal symptoms from drugs like heroin and other opioids.
Unfortunately, because methadone has such powerful effects, it’s easy to become addicted to it. Plus, it may also be abused for recreational purposes. Addiction to methadone can be extremely difficult to stop without help. Learn more below about how to get professional help for methadone withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone withdrawal can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, which include:
Symptoms of methadone withdrawal occur in stages. Symptoms usually begin about 24 to 36 hours after last using the drug. Methadone withdrawal may last about two to three weeks or as long as six months. It may feel like a bad flu. Symptoms usually will be worst during the first week. Some symptoms may last longer than a week, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, and trouble sleeping.
Within about 30 hours after last taking methadone you may experience:
After about 72 hours after last taking methadone, you may experience a peak in certain symptoms, including:
When you’re ready to quit methadone, it may seem like a good idea to quit “cold turkey,” but this can actually be very difficult and even dangerous. It’s best to get professional help.
Entering a professional, medical detox program will ensure that you are clinically monitored in a safe environment. This way, you will have the proper care you need while your body goes through the painful detoxification process as it gets rid of its physical need for the drug.
For example, your medical team can administer detox medications such as buprenorphine or naltrexone to help relieve the cravings. They will also make sure your body has the proper balance of vitamins, fluids, and electrolytes.
There are different stages of methadone addiction treatment, but following a full continuum of treatment is the most comprehensive approach, and it also provides you with the best chance for a successful recovery. By following a full continuum of treatment, you will begin with the most intense stage of care with the detox phase. Then, you will move through progressively less intense levels of treatment. The stages of treatment for methadone addiction include:
During detox, the first stage of methadone withdrawal treatment, your goal will be medical stabilization. Depending on the severity of your addiction, detox lasts about three to seven days.
When you arrive, you will receive a complete medical assessment. The assessment will be used to determine your level of addiction and any co-occurring medical needs you may have. A medical exam and urine or blood tests to screen for drugs will be included in the assessment.
Your physician may also require additional testing such as more blood tests, including a CBC (complete blood count), chest X-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), and testing for other diseases.
A detox plan will be created for you after a doctor reviews your results. You will be under the care of a medical team, which will include doctors, nurses, and support staff. Under the care of your medical team, you will start the detox process.
Medical detox for methadone withdrawal includes a combination of detox drugs, such as buprenorphine, clonidine, and naltrexone. You will be under 24-hour clinical supervision during the detox process.
Your detox plan will also include professional emotional support. It’s common for many people to experience anxiety, depression, and other challenges as they go through detox.
Depending on the severity of your addiction, after completing the detox phase of treatment, the next stage is to continue treatment in either an inpatient, or residential, facility or in a partial hospitalization program.
As an inpatient, you’ll live full-time at the residential treatment center while focusing solely on your recovery in a structured treatment program. During this stage of treatment, you will attend therapy sessions at least five days a week.
If your doctor does not recommend that you continue as an inpatient, the next stage after detox is to continue treatment in a partial hospitalization program (PHP). While you are going through the PHP stage, you’ll live at a transitional living facility.
You will attend therapy sessions five days a week for six hours each day. A combination of individual, group, and family therapy programs, these sessions are designed to fully address your emotional and mental health needs.
Your goal at this stage will be to focus on learning positive life skills and coping mechanisms. These are important techniques that will help you to be successful in your recovery and avoid relapse.
The next stage after PHP is called the intensive outpatient program (IOP). At this stage, you have the option to either move back home or into a “sober home.” This is a facility that provides a more structured lifestyle and an environment free of drugs and alcohol.
At this stage, you won’t attend therapy sessions as often, but you will still attend intensive therapy sessions. You will also continue with medication management if needed.
During the IOP stage of treatment, you will continue to be accountable for your recovery. This stage also includes periodic weekly drug testing.
Upon successful completion of the formal treatment program, you will have the opportunity to attend weekly support groups and social events and meet other treatment center graduates. These are informal opportunities to meet other program alumni who also understand the recovery process. Developing these new friendships can help you build social an important social network to help support your long-term recovery.
If you’re ready to detox from methadone, the intake specialists at Pathway to Hope are here to provide the guidance and support you need to start your recovery. Contact them 24/7 for free and confidential help.
They can answer any questions you may have. After you speak with an intake specialist, you will know what to expect from our evidence-based services. With this information, you will feel confident of making an informed decision about your treatment. Our specialists can also find out if your private health insurance will fully cover your treatment costs.
You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Call us at 844-311-5781 and let us help you get started on your journey to recovery today.
Cherney, Kristeen (2016, December 23) Going Through Methadone Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/
Mayo Clinic Staff (2018, January 10) Tapering off Opioids: When and How. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org
Patafio, Michaela. What Is Methadone? Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com