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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  1. Quit Herion about 3:weeks ago and after abusing for 5 years, I was only skin ppping for about it 3 months enough to not be sick. I was out in the hospital 15 days ago after having started methadone on my own at 30mg 3 times a day for about a week. While in the hospital the doctor has gotten me down to 15mg once a day and I feel great
    What would be your best advise fir weaning and waiting.? I only have access to about 15 it 20 more 10mg tablets. What is your best advise to use the remaining and quit the methadone with as little WD’s as possible. I get massive restless leg syndrome in the past. Please advise best use theo quit. Thanks so much

  2. Hi I have been in the methadone program for two years, my highest dose was 90mg I finally decided to taper off of it made it down to 60mg but was having a lot of pain in my back then my knees hurt . Does methadone get in your bones? So I held at 60mg for a bit but am now down to 15mg. Right after I took my dose Tuesday I threw up so I don’t think I’m going to continue, at this point I will see if I can stop. I gained like 80lbs on this stuff I think it is the most vile thing it’s the devil for sure. But no one ever tells you… Do you think I will experience severe withdrawal symptoms stopping at 15mg?

    1. Hi Kathy. Back and joints pain are symptoms of methadone withdrawal. I suggest that you slower your tapering schedule.

  3. Im prescribed 110mg of methadone per day fore chronic pain. And im just wondering if I ever had to talk like just 6 for 5 days in a row and I will be fine?

  4. I usually take methodone that has sugar in if I take sugar free today wlll it stop me from being ill cos I’m used to sugar methodone

  5. Mason…..have they helped you at all?? If not go to ER. Its.not cool to go through this not fair either. I went so long waiting if you read my post I just told them to keep me off but its the worst w/d I ever dealt with. Now I’m off and back to oxycodone 10.mg 4 a day……does it help ? Some..its not enough due to my tolerance but better then nothing right now. Go early I have tried every kind from my Drs and methadone I will never again just cuz of what you and I went through. Wd from oxycodone I can kind of be a little tougher but methado e….hell no. I hope you get help w this situation in sorry your going through this.

  6. I have been On methadone fives and Percocet fives for the last five years I missed a follow up appointment and they said I can’t get back into January 9 and they will not give me no prescription till then or they allowed to do that

  7. Hello I have been on methadone for pain although it doesn’t work my primary can’t taper me off.I take 30mg a day. Well my dad was in ICU and I missed my appt. So they say I can get in on the 20th I’m out now not sure what to do for 2 weeks 4 kids all in sports ect. My pain out of control but I really don’t want my kids to see me like that. Is there anything I can do??
    My old pain Dr had me on 30mg roxicodone 52 a day!!!!! So I went straight to hospital detox when he lost lic. And chose to try methadone cuz long acting only thing I didn’t try. My thing is this is the most ridiculous thing ever with the Dr ( I think the. MA is playing Dr) and being rude not understand how sick I will be soon. Is there anything I can do to make me not so sick so My kids don’t see?? I do want off and back to oxycodone ….a light dose lol but not this way. Help anyone? The MA said DEA says you have to have monthly appts I remember the rules 3 months up to Dr you have before appt. Ugh…!!!! Also I read it causes bad thoughts and with my pain levels and a bad accident that made it worse I have had several suicide thoughts so imworried about that also.

  8. I take only one pill orally for last10 years.i had few car accidents and older i get lot of pain on left side of my body.
    I tried doctors and they alwys say its an old injury. Try to give vikadon.
    I dont like vikadent make my stomach upset. Now i am in my fifties and thr person i buy ftom passed away.
    I think its time for me to quit and chang my life style for good even though i only used to take one per day for my pain.
    I am out over a week and i made it so far. But still feel weired.
    What advise you can give me to go forward with my journey.
    Thank you for your assistance.

  9. My father has been taking 70mg of methadone a day for back pain for the last 20 years and now his Dr. Wants to take him off of it. He also wants my father to stop taking the 30mg oxycodone he takes along with the methadone. What kind of detox withdrawals can we expect. Ive heard that methadone being like heirrone and alcohol is physicaly addictive and withdrawal can be deadly. Others have told me that givin the length of time and high dosage (100mg of methadone for the first 10 years) that its in his bones and he can never quit or it will kill him. Iam just not sure that taking him off the pain killers is best and am worried about the physical dependence part. I myself have had 3 withdrawal siezures from alcohol withdrawal the last being a grand mol resulting in a fractured c6 & c7 vertabret, 7days in a hospital, and the rest of my life with other complications as a result. My father is 73 years old.

    1. Hi Michael. The safest way to end methadone is by slowly reducing the daily dose. So, I suggest that you consult with a doctor to help your father plan an individualized tapering schedule. Then, you may download our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioid Painkillers’ to learn more about the whole process: https://addictionblog.org/ebooks/how-to-quit-opioid-painkillers/
      And, if you have any problems, call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best rehab program for your father.

  10. Hi my friend is 56 years old he was on 80mls of methadone and has gradually tapered down to 5 mls he is finding this last stage extremely difficult sickness loss off appetite( he’s lost 2 stone) irritable emotional aches all over, I thought these symptoms would have reduced with the less methadone taken but they just seem to get worse.

  11. I went cold turkey off 125mg in 2005. I had been on that dose for 2yrs. I will never recommend that,never. I thought of some terrible things,horrible.It took 16 days to lose the restless leg syndrome, and I lost 52lbs.Not a good idea tp lose weight, so plz? Dont do it.Safest way is to drop 10mgs per week and 5mgs per week when you hit 25 or 30mgs. It really works. Or you can ask your DOC to try a blind taper.some agree,some dont.Good luck 2 all involved.u can do it.faith is also a great way to heal.!

  12. A friend is withdrawn from 100mg methadone for almost 1 month now an she having pain in her stomach an throwing up what is going on

  13. Hell Iam Laura, I have been on and off heroine since I was 18 years old, mainly on! Iam now on day 5! I have found a wonder drug that helps with withdraws! I have had the slight effects of the drug leaving my body! More mental feeling like I have another person inside me… but feeling amazing Iam so proud! I wish every one new about this!! Day 5 surly I would be feeling some sort of withdraw after being on it for 5 half years!!!!!????

  14. I’ve been in Methadone maintenance treatment for almost 5 years now.Well, I decided to go ahead and quit “cold turkey,” while in treatment. I thought “how hard could it be”? I mean, after all, this wasn’t Heroin.Boy, did I ever have it wrong? Methadone withdrawals were the worse experience of my entire life and I’m in my mid-sixties.It was like having a real bad case of the flu on steroids.I mean you can’t sleep.You don’t want to stay awake.And there’s never a second of relief.I couldn’t enjoy television, listening or playing music etc.I mean it was crazy bad.My wife, bless her heart, ended up taking me back down to the clinic and I thank God they took me right back without all the hours of paperwork, etc.
    But I did find out from this experience that if a person desires to get off of Methadone, they need to do it the way that the Doctor prescribes..through titration or slowly tapering off under the supervision of the clinic’s Doctor(s), nurses, and their counslor..To try to do it any other way is not only potentially dangerous it’s just sheer nonsense.Thank you for letting me share.

  15. I was placed on morphine for sever pain secondary to rotator cuff surgery that became complicated. I am 73. After a very long time on morphine I insisted on being detoxed. I was referred to a methadone program. My dose was titrated from about 600 mg of morphine qd to 150 mg of methadone. I immediately began the gradual reduction of the methadone. Everything went well until I reached a dose of 18 mg. Though I was uncomfortable I continue to reduce the dose to 9 mg. I now feel like I will die. I have no cravings for the drug but the discomfort and my inability to do anything is scary. I probably should be in a hospital. Advise please

  16. I’ve been on methadone nearly four years. I’m on 80mg liquid daily. Due to financial problems I had to quit cold turkey. It’s day 8 and I think could just die. The only reason I’m able to write on this blog is because a friend gave me valium. She was worried I would have a withdrawal seizure. I swear I will never go back to this drug. Not do I have any cravings for it. Not to say if someone brought me a cup of that red juice I probably would devour it now. Only to stop the pain I’m experiencing. If anything comes from this I swear I will do all i can to spread the word NEVER TAKE THIS DRUG.

  17. I am 8 days off 75 mg. oxycodone and 30-40 mg. methadone. I very much have had the flu-like symptoms you mentioned Ivana as well as intense times of sweating and just plain hot! I actually thought I had the flu and went to the dr. Didn’t. It’s pretty miserable and I suspect I haven’t hit the worst yet. I have been in pain management for 8 + years. I told them a couple of times I wanted to get off everything but have been told by more people than believable that I would be on pain meds the rest of my life. Well, I couldn’t think, remember, still can’t, lots and lots of confusion and I just knew the meds were making the pain worse. I would frequently go 2-3 days at first, than shorter periods and not take anything so I believed I wasn’t addicted. I think I was wrong. I was told if you were in serious pain you used the meds up. Is that so? I wonder? Am interested in the official position. I’m uncomfortable from nerve pain. Still I want off all of it. Is Lyrica addiction-free?If so, how much can I take w/o affecting thinking and memory? Now here is a real question. Should I take 5 mg. a day of one or the other to help with symptoms of withdrawal? Or at this point tough it out? Will it prolong being drug free to take a little for a few days and then even less a few days? How much, how long, if so? I’ll watch for a reply. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Debbie. I suggest that you speak with your doctor for any further methadone use. Also, I suggest that you speak with a pharmacist to recommend some over-the-counter medications, home remedies and teas to help you ease withdrawal symptoms.

  18. I’m a 45yr old black female that was useing heroin then when to a methadone clinic and then stop going for other reasons but know I buy methadone and then break the bottles down to half and drink every 4 or 5 days and I want to know how I can stop drinking all together please help

  19. Husband tested pos. for benzo, rapid detox from 110 to 60. He can so far stay on 60, but he is showing weird signs of withdrawl. Excessive sleepiness, can’t even stay awake, basically falling down standing up. Dreams are outwardly showing with mumbled words and lots of body flinches. Slurred speech when awake, hallcinating both hearing and seeing. Not sure, but may be taking benzos now?

  20. I’m 16 days clean from all opiates thanks for your advise you gave me on 2-18-15 Ivana had a little withdrawal symptoms after tapering but over the counter medication did help a lot plus staying active all the time keeping your mind and body busy also helps. Thanks again Ivana.

    1. Congratulations Dave! I’m very happy to read that you are doing well. You know, it’s comments like yours that drive me to help even more people and thank you for making my day that much better. I wish you all the best!

    1. Hello Dave. Methadone tapering is best and safest when done under medical supervision. Here are some evidence-based guidelines form a medical university that better explain the process and outcomes. If you are willing to lower doses down and eventually quit, I’d advise you to contact a doctor first who can evaluate your health state, construct a tapering schedule and assist you through withdrawal symptoms as they occur. Here are the guidelines: http://www.aegisuniversity.com/Aegis%20Documents/Tapering%20off%20of%20Methadone%20Maintenance%205-24-02.pdf

  21. I detox off of 60 mg day of oxycodone with 10 mg a day of methadone to avoid withdrawals and its working I’m off of oxycodone. Now I’m taken 10 mg of methadone a day and its been 25 days now. My question is will have withdrawal symptoms from 10 mg methadone a day after 30 days because I want to be done with methadone.

    1. Hello Dave. Tapering doses down only makes the withdrawal symptoms more bearable and less intense. It cannot completely eliminate the withdrawal effects. But, this doesn’t mean you cannot quit completely. It can be uncomfortable after you are no longer taking it, but after a short while you’ll be feeling better and better each day. Ask your doctor or a pharmacist to suggest some over-the-counter medications for short-term use that will help the diarrhea, nausea, sleeplessness, muscle aches, etc. as they occur.

  22. i take 230 mg of methadone a day here for the past month ive been in the hospital and they have been giving me pills instead of the liquid im use to well its going on the fourth day and all the sudden i am getting “high” off my morning dose which has not happened in months i usually just feel normal, then at night starting around six i get horrible withdraw syptoms the docs do not believe me and think i must be taking something else to cause the withdraws but im not i seriously can not take this anymore and need answers why am i suddenly withdrawing off of 230 mg of methadone that ive been use to taking everyday for the past six months, i have been told that the fact that i have hep c changes the half life of methadone but this is ricidiclous and why all the sudden is it happening after a month of switiching from liquid to pills? can someone please help!!!

  23. Hello Carol. Detox from opioids like methadone is a lot like a very, very bad flu. Hot/warm compresses or gels can help for muscle aches. Warm baths and showers, also. NSAIDs and OTC medications for pain can help. The emotional and psychological support will be crucial. Do you have a pharmacist or physician on hand that you can call during the process so that you can consult on how to address specific symptoms? You’ll need support, as well.

  24. I’m the mother of a daughter on 90mg a day of methadone. She will be living in my home while she detoxes in 14 days. I know this is rather quick but we don’t have any other choice. I’ve read all the symptoms about detoxing but would like to know what I can do for her to make her more comfortable. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  25. Hi Paul. How long had you been taking methadone? At what dose? Sweating is related to methadone use, and possibly withdrawal.

  26. I an surfing from really bad sweating underarm and beteew my cheap of my butt so how can I stop it as this has been going on for all the time while I’ve been on methadone I stop taking it 15 days ago and it hasnot ease thank u

  27. Hi Paul. I’d suggest that you check in with your prescribing physician so that the withdrawal be supervised. Especially if the physical symptoms are accompanied by negative thoughts.

  28. I am going cold turkey on my own and the main side is sweeting heaps and heaps it’s drive me to the think thing I would never think of so can u help plz

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