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How to withdraw from methadone

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.

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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

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37 Responses to “How to withdraw from methadone
Arcenio
12:42 am May 3rd, 2015

66 year old veteran trying to get off methodone please help

1:32 pm May 4th, 2015

Hello Arcenio. I believe you can make it through, but you will need professional medical help. I suppose you’ve been taking the methadone for quite a while, which makes it unsafe to just quit or stop taking it on your own. Check out this article that explains Treatment Options for Veterans to get a better idea of what your options are. Also, you can call the helpline number displayed on the page.

Lawrence G.
8:01 pm May 4th, 2015

I have severe peripheral neuropathy, which I was told was from monoclonal gammapathy, which I went through IVIG infusion with no results. Was on 80mg methadone in three divided doses a day and seventy five mg oxecodone in divided doses also, from a university hospital pain mgt. clinic for several years. I am sixty nine. My doctor retired and because of shortage of staff they referred me to outside doctor who immediately cut both doses in half, saying that only cancer patients needs doses that high.. It has been three weeks now since then and the pain from the perilpheral neuropatlhy has gotten so bad that I can barely walk now and lie down during the day to avoid the pain of being on my feet. Also have pain in my large muscle groups. Pain is continuous pain and night. Will I eventually get relief from the pain at this present dose of 40mg of methadone and 40 oxecondone?. There Is no speaking to this doctor, his way or the highway. I find getting another doctor to be impossible when I mention my situation. Help.

2:22 pm May 8th, 2015

Hi Lawrence. I’m very sorry that you’ve been put in such a situation. But, I believe that you will be ok, since cutting back half of your usual dose causes withdrawal symptoms to occur. Strangely, withdrawal symptoms tend to mimic the symptoms of the condition that is being treated. You will get used to the lower dose in time, and as withdrawal effects subside you will be able to move and feel better. See if your pharmacist at the local pharmacy can suggest some medication, lotion or cream that can help relieve the pain.

Lois
12:28 am August 20th, 2015

My son has been on 100 mg daily of methadone for many years. He missed dosage at his clinic and was cut to 30mg. This is his 2nd day of 30mg and will be permitted to 40mg tomorrow and increased to 50 in aweek.. He lives alone and works a full-time job. Will he be able to function? He has not asked me for help. I just want to know how bad his symptoms are with such a drastic cut of dosage. Thanks

4:48 pm August 24th, 2015

Hello Lous. How is your son doing? Such fast tapering is expected to set off a series of withdrawal symptoms. He may need some time off work, as I hardly believe he will be able to continue working normal days when withdrawal starts. I recommend you take him to the doctor to get advise on how to treat symptoms and manage through this period.

Glenn
10:31 pm August 24th, 2015

When I decided to detox off Methadone on my own, the following Analogy IS MOST IMPORTANT. Think of how slow a snail moves. Its hard to see except for seeing the wet trail it leaves. Multiply that by 3 times slower. I followed that advice which YES it took a about one year but NEVER experienced any withdrawal I Reduced 5 mg’s/Month. When I got to 30 mg’s I stayed at that dose for 2 months before dropping to 25 mg’s and the same until I was off. Many Blogs I’ve read on this subject most had been taking 100-300 mg’s or more Stating it had been very easy before dropping from 30 to 25’s thus almost 100% 0f these patients had to be put on Suboxen which told me one thing, THEY WERE not taking DOUBLE THE time to reduce from The last 30 mg’s to finally being completely detoxed Nobody needs to be put on Suboxen at the final doses All’s that is doing is the same when a smoker wearing or chewing Nicotine gum to get off there Nicotine addiction I’ve been off Methadone now for almost 1 year with No side effects what so ever SLOW…………IS THE KEY Last, the Previous is my experience and because ALL PATIENTS ARE DIFFERENT Consult your DOCTOR Before making changes to ANY MEDICATIONS

2:12 pm September 8th, 2015

Hi Glenn. Thank you for your valuable information and for sharing your own experience as advise for others. I agree that the slower and more gradual the taper – the less risk of withdrawal discomfort. And, yes, having medical advise and support is needed, but also the will and motivation to make it through.

Hey there Ivana
5:13 am September 24th, 2015

I have been prescribed Methadone for pain management for a prolapsed and torn disc in my lower back..I have now been on Methadone for 1 year and my dosage has been at the quantity of 50mgs a day..I am now on a reduction programme which is supervised by my doctor..As I reduce the amount of Methadone my Back Pain increases…I have told my doctor that I want to be clear of Methadone for a few reasons ie. I suffer severe Constipation from it and the Main reason is that Here in New Zealand I am unable to get employment as Employers have a Zero Tolerance to Drugs even if they are a Prescribed medication as in my case.. Over the last few days I have tried to go Cold Turkey but it has been too hard on me..My doctor is decreasing my intake by 1 mg a week. My question is …Do you think I can decrease quicker than 1 mg a week as I am getting frustrated with how slow this Decline in Methadone consumption is going?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards Pieter

2:22 pm October 9th, 2015

Hello Pieter. It is possible to be decreasing larger doses, but I’d follow the doctor’s guidelines. You see, dropping larger faster can cause hash withdrawal symptoms. It may seem very slow, but it’s the safest way too. I hope that soon you will be completely off methadone and will find work without any problem.

Erica
2:44 am November 23rd, 2015

My boyfriend as reduced to 26 mg a day ova a period of several yrs but for a couple of wks he took extra n for past two wks as been reducing to his normal dose but on top of this he been takin codeine 30mg n diaz’s 2mg but 6-8 at a time 2-3 times everyday He as cut down ova last 2 wks so he says but is stil trying to tel me he is ratterling but wid the info I ave read this contridict wat he is tellin me But he as ad this problem for several yrs n when he does take extra for 2-3days he turns into an AGGRESIVE violent? Bully I don’t no wat to do to help him as we been in an on/off relationship but af known him 10 n he started reducing n gt to 26mg n now he makes excuses why he takes extra n I just don’t understand fully Can u help x

Susan
11:53 am March 3rd, 2016

Hi I have been on methadone for 20 yrs. dare I say it. I have felt like I’m in shackles it’s terrible. I’ve been stuck on 15mgs to 12.5mgs for 11 yrs due to having children. Am currently on day 8. Day 5 I felt crap an strength or energy an aching but not as bad as thought would. I seemed outpatient help but haven’t gone yet. I know everyone’s different but roughly how long? When do you feel your worst?

Ramone
7:05 pm April 5th, 2016

Doc put me on this at pain management and now I’m terrified. Been on this a week after being on opiates for several years with no problems! HELP!!! IM SCARED!!

Dan
3:04 am May 10th, 2016

I have been on 90mg oxycodone and 30 mg Methadone per day for three years. I am under the care of a Pain Specialist, and have had three back surgeries. I have recently cut back to 25 mg Methadone, and 75 mg oxycodone. When I miss a dose of either my back pain is horrible, but I can live with extreme pain, and I’m not sure that I can live with myself being a drug addict. So, my plan is to try to cut back to 60mg oxycodone while withdrawing as fatr as possible from methadone, and hopefully within a year to be free of methadone. I would appreciate any guidance that You can give me. Thank You! Dan

Shayna
8:21 pm May 24th, 2016

I am a long term patient of a neurologist, who had me on methadone, Oxycodone as well as Gabapentin. I have severe sciatica in both legs, causing me occasional complete numbness in left leg from the knee down. This has started happening since I started withdrawing from methadone, against my will because my current doctor just retired a month ago and I cannot afford a lot a month for a new doctor, on disability.
I want to know if when withdrawing from methadone, if there is anything that can help with the severe physical pain whether it be over the counter or prescription, I already take ibuprofen 800mg 3 times a day, flexiril 3 times a day, and Gabapentin 600 mg 4 times a day. Yet despite all that I am still in agony, can’t sleep, bend or barely walk. I use a cane, back brace, and I put ice on my pains almost 24/7. What can I do? I have no money and only Medicaid for insurance. There are no neurologists, or pain management doctors within a five hundred mile radius that accept my insurance, a methadone clinic would cost more than a doctor.
Can a regular primary care doctor help me with anything, does anyone think? Even meds just to help ease withdrawal? Are there any home remededies or supplements that can help with easing withdrawal symptoms? Like I heard turmeric helps with pain. Has anyone tried it? Does anything out their help with the freezing cold / burning hot sweats and flashes? Anything that could help with the severely increased neuropathy pains I feel a million times worse without my methadone? Despite the fact I take gabapentin, which I have noticed does help with the hot/cold sweats more when I take it. That horrifying ridiculous excuse for a pain doctor I last saw gave me clonidine. That stuff doesn’t help at all, and is in fact a blood pressure medicine, with a side, off label use to supposedly help some withdrawal symptoms. I see absolutely no benefit. I also wanted to know if Suboxen or Subutex has any benefit for helping with physical pain, like methadone does. I know a lot of people benefit from it to help stay off of opiates, but does it effect pain at all? If anyone would have any suggestions that would help, I would greatly appreciate it.
I am very close to just going ER. The only reason I haven’t is because I don’t want to be trapped at the ER for ten hours with no hope of being able to smoke a cigarette. I’m scared they would admit me, (same smoking complaint, smoke-free campus as they call it. Any help, information, or ideas that I could use would be greatly appreciated. I am at the point, that I think cutting my own leg off would be preferable living in this screaming agony. (That just made me feel like Dr. House, M.D., ha, ha but even he got off the Vicodin). Not to mention my back currently feels like I am a cockroach that was stepped on, but survived.and forced to live in horrible pain. (Only I was hit by a drunk driver in a minivan). Thank you for any suggestions and have a great day.

Natalie
3:01 am November 5th, 2016

Do you know anything about using IV Ketamine to rapidly withdraw from Methadone. My pain specialist doctor – head of anaesthetics for a major hospital in a very large city in Australia wants to admit me to hospital and bring on rapid detox under IV Ketamine. Withdrawal will apparently be over very quickly. Ketamine masks withdrawal symptoms & treats pain during the process. I can’t find much information on this…. any advice, references, information greatly appreciated.
If I go ahead I will let you know I get on.

Johnathan
1:27 am December 5th, 2016

Ok I’m forced to stop 80mg/day of methadone liquid from client to zero in 7 days due to insurance reasons. I have few 8mg auboxone steips to help with WD of methadone and I’m sick of everything now. Is it better to wait till 7th day and get full 80mg or reduce by 10mg/day until 7th day and than wait until SICK before inducing sub??

Sadie
5:40 pm December 28th, 2016

I am going to a methadone clinic to get off opiates its been almost 2 years of attending this clinic i was at 175mg liquid methadone with opiate blocker I have been bringing my self down by my own choice i am currently on 10 mg starting 12-27-16 is there anyway posdible i can finish getting off such a low dose myself at home

Andy
4:40 pm April 7th, 2017

How long will the withdrawal of 18 mil last

Keri
3:15 pm May 17th, 2017

Hi, I’m currently on 16mg of methadone. My highest dose was 38mg. I stopped my taper at 17mg for a few months because of withdrawal and to look for a psychologist to help me with COPING SKILLS, DBT, and EDMR because of how I’m feeling I didn’t get a lot of help with tapering down since my last counselor moved to a different methadone clinic. Also since I’ve been at my methadone clinic for the last 2 1/2 years I have been with 4 different counselors because of a big turn around within the clinic. The last counselor I had didn’t help with anything at all and used to complain how tried she was she also quit who knows, the 1st counselor I had was a ex addict that was telling me how I can still get high on Percocet while on methadone. So I made sure she would definitely be out of the picture. Since that was the reason why I was there in the first place addiction to percocet. Second counselor was awesome and actually cared to help me begin my taper from being on 38mg of methadone for 6 months In outpatient treatment then she moved to a different metadone clinc. Now I have a counselor that just sees me once a month to do paper work to catchup her own work. And believe me I’ve tried to ask her to help but she always has a excuse. That theres something she needs to update etc…Anyways I have been on a very slow taper for about a 1yr now. Going down by 1mg every 3 weeks or every 2. Then stopping during times of feeling chills, nausea, mood swings, and depression. My question is I’m I doing this right? I can’t stand most of all the chills, depression. Is there a medication for the chills and sweats, hot flashes? I’m on lexapro 20mg for depression. Everything else makes me nod out. Also I take Xanax .5 for panic attacks as a prn, due to the methadone always being to strong noding me out my psychiatrist put me on adderall 5mg 3 times a day. To help me stay awake, now I’m getting better as I decrease my dose with this symptom. I have so much desire to move on from all of this hell!! Please help with any insight? Thanks, Keri

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:43 pm June 30th, 2017

Hi Keri. Have you tried to replace your counselor? Also, you may enroll into a support group or consider therapy sessions that will give you the support you need.

cande
12:04 pm June 14th, 2017

I am 62 years old and I have many health issues. I have been on methadone for 25 years. The pain center first started me on methadone, but I ended up at the methadone clinic when they stopped it. Then I asked my doctor if he could prescribe it and he did for all these years, but he retired. I have been without a doctor for over a year. When my doctor first started giving it to me, I told him that I was trying to go down and that I wasn’t taking the amount he was giving me and he just said to save them and I did. So I have been taking all those I had saved for so many years. For the last year I have been going down on my own and I am now at 20 mg. I am having a hard time getting down any lower. I am trying to take 15mg then 20mg, but most of the time I end up taking that extra half. I need help but I do not know where to go. I cannot find a doctor to prescribe it to me here in S.C. I did go to a pain center, but they would not see me because I told them the truth about how I had saved my medicine all those years. I don’t think they believed that my doctor told me to do that. He was an old school doctor and I think he knew he was going to retire and I think he was just trying to help me….knowing I would be left out in the cold when he did retire. This was my family doctor for years and he knew I wasn’t going to abuse it. Please help me with some info on where to go or what to do. I only have enough left for another month or so. Thank you. Cande

Peter
7:08 am June 23rd, 2017

I went to a methadone clinic to get off a prescribed morphine dose of 600 mg qd following recovery from surgery. I reached this dose over 2 years of pain. I could not seem to reduce the morphine because of the multiple daily doses . Methadone was single does. I titrated to 159 mg of methadone and began the detox the next day. Over several months there were no symptoms at all. When I reached 18 mg symptoms began . I was reducing at a rate of 3mg every 5 days . Mostly I was sick all the time with s day or two break . at 6mg qd I decided I could not stand the up and down . The dr told me at 12 mg I could just stop if I was willing to endure the discomfort. I wasn’t and I continued to 6 mg. Two days after that reduction I went to stsy with my adult child and his wife. Both are RN’s. One has some significant experience with methadone patients garnered from rotations but little experience with the withdrawal. I am a retired RN. I abruptly stopped the Methadone 2 days after getting to 6mg. My RN daughter in law said her hospital methadone program generally stops dosing at 8mg . I take Clonidine .2 mg and Balcofen 10 mg often every 6-8 hrs. Two days after complete cessation of Methadone my symptoms have become very high moderate . I have never experienced even the slightest craving for either methadone . I did when I tried to detox from morphine without suoervision. I don’t care to go to my childrn’s hospital Methadone clinic for more of the same I simply want out of this addiction . My worse symptom being the coughing producing a clear viscous discharge. I worry that I will become short of breath . Please advise of best way to reduce all symptoms . Do you recommend flu medicine .

Jen
9:59 pm July 7th, 2017

After many years of being on methadone, my husband is trying to get off of methadone right away, on his own. Two days ago he took a total of 60 mg. He took 20 yesterday morning, the 20 last night at 9:30. Today he waited till almost 1:30 pm to take 10 mg.
Is this safe? He is using Gabapentin to ease the pain a little. (He was taking both already, before he cut the methadone.) I feel helpless, seeing him lying in bed, suffering.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:51 pm July 11th, 2017

Hi Jen. I suggest that you download our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioid Painkillers’ to learn more about the process here: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/
Also, your husband should consult with his doctor to help him create an individualized tapering schedule.

Emily
11:52 am July 26th, 2017

I’m onlynon 15 mg of methadone daily.but I’ve been a pill head for 12 years…I want off of it…I think its psychological

Ann
12:27 am August 22nd, 2017

My son has bee on 60 mg of methadone for a year and a half doing great! Because of a new job he can only get meds on two days! Place will not give him take homes again unless he goes there Day before but he’s off wed and Sunday! Now he’s in a pickle! Tried talking to higher up but got no where ! Any ideas? Tampa florida

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
6:13 pm September 5th, 2017

Hi Ann. Speak with someone who’s superior there. There must be someone who’s in charge of this kind of issues.

Keith
6:44 pm August 22nd, 2017

Don’t be a baby I did it in state prison 150 to 0 in the hole if you are on a clinic for over a year and get to go slow consider yourself lucky I was on dope 20 years detoxed in 30 rehabs never worked use methadone when your ready to get your life back than detox slowly take the subs when you get below 30 and use them to get off everything than stop them

Cassandra
2:17 pm September 6th, 2017

With all due respect to you and your principles (I commend them!), methadone withdrawals will not start for at least 24 to 72 hours after your last dose. I am speaking from a long experience & years of research. As you noted, it stays in your system for a few days. I have detoxed from methadone cold turkey many times & have also detoxed from methadone under the care of the doctor. Every time I did this, the withdrawals do not start until the 2nd, 3rd, sometimes not until the 4th day. Thank you for what you do.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:50 pm September 15th, 2017

Hi Cassandra. Thank you for your input. The onset of methadone withdrawal depends from the individual himself/herself. Our information is taken from governmental sources which are generalized.

ryan
3:48 pm September 10th, 2017

I I am on day 5 of methadone withdrawal my last dose was Tuesday at 11 am it’s now Sunday and I’m not sleeping because of rls is driving me insane that’s pretty much the only symtoms is rls,stretchy achy sometimes mostly at night and that’s about all the rls is constant and that is what is driving me crazy I got Advil and Tylenol 3 with codeine and acetaminophen is there anything I can do to help with rls and how long after should this last?? I’m at home in the woods with no help I was on 80 mills methadone for a year and a half and stopped cold turkey cause I cant get it I moved and my doctor wouldn’t send me a script and there is long waiting lists

Nick
5:34 pm October 11th, 2017

I’m taking pills 10325 doctor prescription 2 times a day and I didn’t feel good last night I’d have been taken per day and I went to detox I didn’t know it so where do I go from here to quit this pills

Ashley
9:08 pm October 21st, 2017

Hi, i jave been on methadone for a little over 3 years. I finally decide and felt mentally and physically that i was done.. I go down 3-4 mgs every thursday and i started going down at 120mg and am now at 21. I just want to be done. I havent taken methadone 60 hours or 2 in a half days. Im scared of the withdraws but i dont know the best way to quit. Should i just stay off or keep tapering until im done. I have 3 children under the age of 12 and star a new job monday. What is your medical opinion? Thank you for your time

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:56 pm November 1st, 2017

Hi Ashley. Experts claim that slowly reducing the daily dose of the drug in a safer way to quit the drug. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

Joe
3:49 am October 23rd, 2017

I am trying my hardest to get off Methadol. I am down to 30 mgs. a day 2 5mgs three times a day.. It has been day 6. My next step is to try cutting down to 23 next wk. The craving for it is greater than the pain I have. I can’t way til my next dose. But I am using all the will power I can. How much more do I cut down each if I can to stay sane each day before I fill I can do without. I heard I have to get down to just 10 mgs. a day before I am free of it.I am doing it on my own and it is so dam hard not to have that carving. thanks

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:12 pm October 25th, 2017

Hi Joe. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Moreover, download our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioid Painkillers’ to learn more about the whole process: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/how-to-quit-opioid-painkillers/

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