What are methadone withdrawal symptoms?

Methadone withdrawal symptoms often mimic the flu and include a runny nose, watery eyes, chills, trembling, aches, and nausea. More on what to expect during methadone withdrawal here.

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Methadone is known to be habit forming and can be very addictive. This is due to the way that methadone works in the brain and on the central nervous system. So when trying to stop using methadone, many people find themselves dependent on methadone and facing withdrawal symptoms.

Here, we discuss methadone withdrawal symptoms, what causes them, and how to deal with them (especially if you are simultaneously seeking help with methadone addiction). Then, we invite your questions about methadone withdrawal or how to treat addiction to methadone at the end.

Why do methadone withdrawal symptoms occur?

The internal environment of the average human body is in a delicate balance known as homeostasis, Spikes in brain chemicals and functions, however, can disrupt this balance and make it difficult for the body to function properly. So why does withdrawal occur? Withdrawal occurs as the brain and central nervous system adapt to functioning without a drug after a period of physical dependence.

For example, after a person takes methadone on a regular basis, the body begins to function as though the presence of methadone is normal. This results in the body altering some of its functions to compensate for the drug. So, when a person stops taking methadone, the lack of methadone causes a shocks to the system. The disruption in the body’s adapted version of homeostasis can cause a rebound reaction resulting in withdrawal symptoms when doses are significantly lowered or stopped.

What are symptoms of methadone withdrawal?

Symptoms of methadone withdrawal are considered to be a little less severe than withdrawal symptoms of drugs like heroin or oxycodone, but they are still rather uncomfortable. One of the most common symptoms of methadone withdrawal is an intense craving for the drug. Individuals going through methadone withdrawal may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • anxiety
  • body and muscle aches
  • chills
  • decrease in appetite
  • irritation
  • nausea.
  • runny nose
  • trembling
  • watery eyes

Methadone withdrawal symptoms: How long?

On average, methadone symptoms take a little longer to manifest in comparison to other opiate/opioid withdrawal symptoms. It takes about three days for methadone withdrawal symptoms to appear in most people, and these symptoms can last for several weeks.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms treatment

It is recommended that individuals detoxing from methadone do so under medical supervision. This can include their own physician, the help of a drug detox, or residency in a rehabilitation facility. To reduce the intensity and duration of methadone withdrawal symptoms, medical professionals will usually recommend gradually reducing the dosage of methadone each day or week until a person is no longer taking any. Over-the-counter medications can sometimes help with some of the physical symptoms.

Some individuals may also find it helpful to see mental health professionals or addiction specialists during methadone withdrawal. Professional such as a psychotherapist or psychiatrist can help individuals struggling with methadone withdrawal symptoms and may even prescribe medications, like ant-anxiety medications, that can help relieve some symptoms.

Questions About methadone withdrawal symptoms

If you are or a loved one is struggling with methadone withdrawal symptoms, you can rest easy knowing that this is not a road that needs to be traveled alone. It’s natural to have questions or concerns during this difficult time in one’s life, and we’d be more than happy to offer tips and advice, and point you in the right direction. Please leave your questions or comments below, and we’ll do our best to answer all your inquiries.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Methadone withdrawal psychosis
NCBI: Methadone at tapered doses for the management of opioid withdrawal
SAMHSA: Abrupt Withdrawal from Pain Medications — Information and Caution
NHTSA: Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets – Methadone
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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