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Methadone detox

How to help a methadone addict?

How to help a methadone addict?

December 29th, 2016

One way to help a methadone addict is to learn how to approach them and to try to convince them to enter treatment. Read more about what to do if your friend or loved one is facing a methadone addiction problem.

14 The real dangers of methadone

The real dangers of methadone

March 2nd, 2015

Tolerance to and dependence on methadone can develop with chronic or indefinite use. What are some of the other dangers of long term methadone use? We review here.

Methadone detox

Methadone affects the central nervous system by blocking those receptors that produce euphoric and well-being state. Methadone is a synthetic, long-acting opioid with pharmacologic actions similar to morphine. But in addition to pain relief, methadone works by preventing opiate withdrawal symptoms, blocking the euphoric effects of opiates, and minimizing cravings. But what can you expect if you’d like to get off methadone? What’s detox like? We review here and invite your questions about methadone detox at the end.

Methadone detox methods

Detoxification is the process by which you remove a psychoactive drug from your system; it is the process during which the drug leaves the body. During methadone detox, methadone leaves the human system and triggers a set of methadone withdrawal symptoms. The safest way to detox from methadone is in a specialized clinic supervised by a medical staff. However, you can also detox from methadone at home if you have medical approval and are prepared. Here is a list of some popular methadone detox methods:

  • Cold turkey methadone detox
  • Medically supervised methadone detox
  • Self-guided methadone detox
  • Tapered methadone detox

Statistically, the rate of relapse is higher in cases of cold turkey detox. Tapered methadone detox – slowly cutting down methadone doses – can manifest less severe symptoms and result in more successful outcomes. Generally, addiction professionals recommend that methadone users should gradually tapered off the drug. The tapered methadone detox doesn’t cause a great shock to the body, and it may minimize the methadone withdrawal symptoms. However, you’ll need an individualized plan for staging dose reduction over time. The most general tapered detox guidelines for methadone include:

  1. First, lower the dose by 20-50 % per day until you come to 30 mg daily methadone use.
  2. Then, lower the dose by 5 mg per day every 3-5 days to reach 10 mg daily methadone use.
  3. At the end, lower the dose by 2.5 mg per day every 3-5 days.

Methadone detox protocol

Methadone detoxification is a set of intervention designed to manage methadone withdrawal symptoms and intoxication. The core purpose of all detoxes is to intoxicate the body from the drug and to ease withdrawal symptoms. You must remember that detox in only the first step in treating possible addiction to methadone. In order to be properly assessed, diagnosed and treated the whole process of detoxification is best managed in special detox clinics where addicts are observed by specially trained medical staff.

Generally, methadone detox consists of three basic processes:

1. The evaluation process

This process consists of assessment, diagnosis and complete monitoring of a patient’s psychological and physical state in order to manage methadone addiction treatment properly. Moreover, methadone abusers go through different urinalysis and blood tests for establishing levels of methadone in the body to assess dependence.

2. Stabilization process

This process involves many psychological, pharmacological and medical therapies for helping address withdrawal symptoms. Usually, the stabilization process includes the use medications such as buprenorphine, short acting benzodiazepines, or antidepressants. However, to avoid substituting one drug dependence for another, slowly lowering the daily doses, and use of over-the-counter medications is preferred to pharmaceutical treatments.

3. Long-term recovery

The last process of methadone detox prepares methadone abusers for entry into addiction treatment, when necessary. The main treatments address the psychological state of the person by underlining the importance of completing standardized treatment and referring patients to local resources.

Methadone detox considerations

There is no fixed way to detox from methadone. But before doing anything, consult with an addiction professional. Seek guidance from your family doctor, an MD specializing in addiction medicine, or a psychiatrist. These medical professionals can offer you advice on therapies and providers. Below is a list of reminders for people seeking a detox program:

1. Medically supervised detox clinics

Methadone leaves your body during the process of detox. These clinics offer proper medications and 24-7 medical supervision for better stabilization of the patient. Moreover, detox clinics with medical supervision offer continuity of care referrals for addressing addiction issues.

2. Methadone detox at home

Motivation and support are required if you are to detox at home. Also, a doctor’s clearance for health issues is essential. Slowly tapering the daily doses of methadone to the point where the body is methadone-free is suggested, as are home based therapies. It is best to detox from methadone at home only if the environment is supportive.

3. Cold turkey detox

Cold turkey detox is abrupt cessation of the drug. Usually, this detox is not recommended since the risk of relapsing is high. However, in cases of long term or chronic abuse, cold turkey detox may be suggested.

Methadone detoxification questions

If you or someone is dealing with methadone addiction, please share your experience or concern in the section at the end of the page. Also, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. We are willing to help!

Reference Sources: NIH: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A research-based guide
SAMHSA: Quick Guide for Clinicians: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
NIH: Methadone at tapered doses for management of opioid withdrawal
SAMHSA: Abrupt Withdrawal from Pain Medications- Information and Caution
NHTSA: Methadone

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “Methadone detox
Ken Starr MD Wellness Group
3:51 pm October 8th, 2016

I’m not sure where this recommendation came from or what the author’s experience with this recipe is, but I’ve met zero patients who could handle this abrupt taper from methadone. I run a drug and alcohol intensive medical detox program. We have numerous pateints on methadone, suboxone, heroin and tramadol looking for recovery solutions.
I agree that a taper is the way to go, but 50% dose reduction a day? I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’ve just never seen it.
I more realistic recommendation would be 10-15% reduction a week. And even at that, the methadone clinics in my area are hesitant to comply.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:01 pm October 20th, 2016

Hi Dr. Starr. Thanks for you comment. I totally agree that a tapering schedule should be slower depending on the need of the patient. However, in some medical reference sources it is claimed that to tapervMethadone the patient should decrease dose by 20-50 percent per day until they reach 30 mg/day. See it here: http://www.healthquality.va.gov/guidelines/Pain/cot/OpioidTaperingFactSheet23May2013v1.pdf

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