How to withdraw from methadone

The best way to withdraw from methadone is using tapering protocol under medical supervision. More on what to expect as you withdraw from methadone here.

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Methadone is a prescription drug that can be used as a pain reliever and to treat opiate addictions. Like many other opiate substitution drugs, though, methadone can be habit forming. So how can you prepare to withdraw from methadone (whether you’re physically dependent or need help with methadone addiction)? We review here, and invite your questions about methadone withdrawal protocols at the end.

When do you withdraw from methadone?

It can be hard to decide when to withdraw from methadone, especially since this drug is often prescribed legally. If this is the case, withdrawing from methadone should be done either when a person does not need the drug any longer or when a doctor suggests it.  If a person is taking the drug illegally or abusing it, they should withdraw from methadone as soon as possible. Continued use of this drug can cause a number of different medical problems, including heart and respiratory problems.

How long to withdraw from methadone?

Methadone stays in your system for at least a few days after last use. Symptoms of methadone withdrawal usually manifest when a methadone dose is cut in half or completely stopped. Symptoms will often be most intense during the first few days of the withdrawal process and can last quite a while. Individuals may experience these symptoms anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month, or two (depending on individual dosing factors).

Withdrawal from methadone symptoms

It’s not uncommon to experience a number of physical and psychological symptoms when you withdraw from methadone. Methadone withdrawal symptoms are often very similar to the symptoms that you would experience when you have the flu. For instance, some of the most common methadone withdrawal symptoms include chills, trembling, a runny nose, and nausea. Individuals withdrawing from methadone will also usually feel anxious or irritable, and have an intense craving for the drug. Methadone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • chills
  • insomnia
  • muscle pain
  • restlessness
  • runny nose
  • sweating
  • teary eyes
  • widened pupils (black circles in the middle of the eyes)
  • yawning

How to ease withdrawal symptoms from methadone

Withdrawal symptoms can usually be eased at home with no complications. Some over-the-counter medications, for instance, may be used to relieve some symptoms of detox such as runny noses and nausea. Additionally, individuals withdrawing from methadone should drink plenty of water, which can help ease the detoxification process. Staying busy and talking with a trusted friend, family member, or counselor can also help some individuals deal with drug cravings.

Can I withdraw from methadone at home?

It is possible to withdraw from methadone at home, but it isn’t recommended. Instead, most medical professionals recommend that individuals trying to withdraw from methadone do so under the supervision of a doctor. Physicians and addiction specialists can help methadone addicts understand physical and psychological dependence, prevent a relapse, and ease withdrawal symptoms.

How to withdraw from methadone safely

Doctors generally recommend that individuals withdrawing from methadone do so gradually. This usually involves tapering the dosage over a period of several days or weeks until the person is eventually taking no methadone at all. This method of withdrawing from methadone is considered to be the safest and best way to withdraw from methadone. It does not cause a great deal of shock in the body, and it can also help minimize the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. The suggested taper for methadone is:

  1. Decrease dose by 20-50 percent per day until you reach 30 mg/day
  2. Then decrease by 5 mg/day every three to five days to 10 mg/day
  3. Then decrease by 2.5 mg/day every three to five days

The best way to withdraw from methadone

Most experts agree that the best way to withdraw from methadone is to do so under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. Your doctor can help you withdraw from methadone, as can mental health professionals. However, medical supervision is not an absolute necessity when withdrawing from methadone. All that’s necessary is persistence, a great support system, and a true desire to quit using this drug.

How to deal with withdrawal from methadone questions

Are you trying to withdraw from methadone? Are you scared, nervous, or confused? Leave your questions or concerns in the comment section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to leave a comment with advice and experiences of your own.

Reference Sources: VA: Tapering and Discontinuing Opioids
Medline Plus: Methadone
NCBI: Methadone at tapered doses for the management of opioid withdrawal
SAMHSA: Abrupt Withdrawal from Pain Medications — Information and Caution
Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets – Methadone
NCBI: The clinical use of clonidine in abrupt withdrawal from methadone. Effects on blood pressure and specific signs and symptoms
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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