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Methadone withdrawal

Methadone withdrawal is a set of physical symptoms that occur when a methadone dependent person drastically cuts down

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minute read

Methadone is a synthetic opioids that is used in treating pain and treating addiction. Classified as Scheduled II drug by the Controlled Substance Act, methadone is both habit forming and potentially addictive. More here on methadone withdrawal with a section at the end for your questions.

When does methadone withdrawal start?

Methadone withdrawal starts when the methadone dose is lowered or quit completely. This withdrawal is not like the other opioid withdrawals: it stars a while after the last methadone intake. Usually, methadone withdrawal symptoms manifest three days after dose reduction, and could last 7-10 days. However, because every individual reacts differently to the drug, withdrawal symptoms may be different and could last from several weeks to month on a case-by-case basis.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms

In general, methadone withdrawal symptoms are not as severe or intense as other opioid withdrawal symptoms. They are typically flu-like symptoms. But why does withdrawal occur in the first place? What’s the brain science behind the discomfort?

Methadone affects the brain by blocking areas that cause euphoria while occupying receptors to postpone symptoms of opiate or opioid withdrawal. However, after consuming methadone daily for a certain period of time, the body creates gets used to the presence of the drug. This means that the body has developed methadone dependence, and has adapted by speeding up some actions and slowing down others. For methadone dependent people, the body can function “normally” only in the presence of methadone.

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When you experience methadone withdrawal symptoms, the body is actually seeking homeostasis. Methadone withdrawal is the process during which the human system gets rid of a drug and stabilizes. The reason why withdrawal happens is that the brain is trying to maintain balanced after the body has become methadone tolerant. Moreover, the symptoms are just like flu. The most common symptoms which are reported during methadone withdrawal include:

  • chills
  • pain in the muscles or bones
  • restlessness
  • runny nose
  • sleeping disorder(s)
  • sweating
  • watery eyes

Methadone withdrawal timing

Usually, methadone withdrawal symptoms manifest three days after the last dose. Acute withdrawal usually lasts for 7-10 days, but if the methadone use was long-term, some symptoms can persist for several weeks or months, especially those related to mood and sleep.

Methadone withdrawal tips

Going through methadone withdrawal can be uncomfortable. In one word, be organized. Consult with medical professionals ahead of time. Be prepared with the support, aids, and therapies that you’ll need during this time. And always consult with a doctor, seek help from a methadone detox clinic, and/or reach out to an addiction professional to support and guide you through the process. You may require a structured methadone addiction treatment if you’ve been taking methadone for a long period of time or abuse methadone illegally (without a prescription).

Further, creating an individualized tapering calendar and sticking to it can help minimize the severity or intensity of symptoms. Plus, over-the-counter aids are excellent for over passing methadone withdrawal symptoms more easily. Be sure to drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Also, consider the user of body and mind therapies to focus your energies on your recovery and to help motivate you through withdrawal.

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Methadone withdrawal questions

This article only covers the basic points about methadone withdrawal symptoms. If you still have any questions and/or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us in the comments section below. All your comments are welcomed and appreciated. We try to respond to all legitimate concerns with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Use of methadone
NCBI: Neurotransmitter mechanisms of morphine withdrawal syndrome
CPSO: When and How to tapper opioids
SAMHSA: Abrupt Withdrawal from Pain Medications- Information and Caution
NHTSA: Methadone
NIH: Methadone withdrawal psychosis
Teen Drug Abuse: The word of the day: Withdrawal
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  1. 20 years on methadone. Horrible stuff. Harder to kick then heroin. How I got off of methadone. The taper, From 15mg. Slow is the key word here. Lucky I saved a stash from the clinic on take homes. 1 day 15, the next 10, back to 15 for 1 month. 15per day, following day 10.
    And so one until I get to 5mg. 4 mg for 1 month, 3 mg 1month, 2 mg 1 month, 1 mg 1 month.
    Now I have been free of this poison for over 6 months and feel great!

  2. Lynda and everyone on here.. please please PLEASE look into Kratom!!! I promise it will help with the withdrawal symptoms immensely.. doesn’t matter if the addiction is to benzos, methadone, heroin, etc.. this is a natural herb that definitely helps take away about 80% of the withdrawal symptoms!! Do not listen to the FDA the only reason they say anything negative about Kratom is because they are not making money from it since it is a natural plant, the government cannot put a patent on it. Just be sure to order it online from a reputable vendor instead of buying it from a local head shop.. not only is it way more expensive in stores but the products sit around for too long and lose its potency.
    Also be sure to take supplements and eat as healthy as possible to make the body stronger while going through so much stress.. Good luck!! By the way there are support groups on Facebook for people trying to learn more about kratom and you could also get a lot of great information through YouTube videos and of course on Google

  3. Hi, I’ve been on methadone for almost 6 yrs. I was on 140mg.. Started detoxing and got down to 50 mgs. I went to surprise. I used to take silicone and now when I take it it makes me freak out. I feel like I’m going to die. Ive been off methadone since May 22. I am sweaty and very emotional. My legs are bothering me so bad. I can hardly take care of my kid. I’m scared. I’m so scared. I can’t take the subs. I’m also addicted to benzos. I need help. IDK what to do. Please any information will be appreciated

  4. Hi everyone. I was on 100 miligrams for 40 years except for the 1 year I went to jail. Well I tried every rehab and everything I ever heard of to get off it. Well nothing worked. My husband of 44 years and I were a mess. We were also on Xanax and klonopin and sleeping pills. Well he overdosed on methadone and passed away in 2015! It was the most hardest thing I have ever gone thru in my whole life. But I managed to detox off everything in 3 months following his death. Methadone is no joke. It is a very terrible drug. I have been clean now for 3 years but I still have pain and don’t sleep well at all and seems terrible. I’m ok but I contribute everything that is wrong with me today is from methadone. If you can lower your dose and get off I truly suggest it

  5. Hello to all that was on methadone for approximately 8 years was taken 180 10 mg a months and 120 15 mgoxycodone also. Went cold turkey in October and made it through the worst but was wondering if anybody had any idea the only problem I seem to be having now or the sweats and just a little bit of the skin crawl can anybody tell me maybe how much longer this will go on and anything I can do for the sweats God bless all

  6. Hello. I’m on 89 mg of methadone and going down a my a week right now. I’m going to be going to jail more than likely on March 20 today is Feb 2 I want my work release but they will not allow me to go if it’s in my system. So how long do you think I should stop taking it before my drug test? I’m aware I’m going to be very uncomfortable but I will be able to at least take a sleep aid before going back into jail so that should help since that is the worst symptom I’ve had from withdrawal in the past. I’m going to try my best to use mind over matter and not let the other symptoms affect my job performances but I’m a Lil nervous being that my job loves me for my great work ethic. They are unaware that I take methadone. I’ve been there almost 4 years now. But I’ve been at the methadone clinic for 7 years. I was at 120 mg and gave detoxed a little at a time. But I need to know how long to ask them to suspend my sentence to show me to at least get the hard part of the withdrawal over. I have 7 vacation days I can use. But I probably should wait until the 3-4 day after not taking the methadone to ask for time off correct?? Thank you

  7. I take 60 mg. of Methadone daily. Today I think I mistakenly took 50 xtra mgs. I’m not sure but should I be worried about overdosing ?

    1. Hi Tim. If you don’t feel well, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for an assessment of overdose risk or with help on what to do next.

  8. hi I was on methadone 100 milligrams for 40 years. I am now 65 years old. back in 2015 my husband of 44 years overdosed and died from methadone. I got off of it after that in 3 months! I did not sleep or eat for months but I can assure you that the withdrawal symptoms will go away and you will feel 100 percent better than you ever have!! I wish you the best of luck!! Debbie

  9. ive been using heroin for many years but only for the last 4 years have i taken methadone on a daily basis..about3 weeks ago i decided to get off it.in the first 5 days i dropped my dose by 10ml a day from 70 to 200ml and then a day later when the withdrawls became too intense i started taking suboxone to counteract the withdrawls..i started on 8mg of suboxone each day and after 4 days dropped down to 2 mg, then for 2 days i had nothing and then the next day another 2 mg…again for 2 days i took nothing and then in the last 2 days ive taken about 5 mg more suboxone..i have about 8mg of suboxone left and i think if i take 1 mg a day for the next 8 days that by that time the methadone will be almost completely out of my system..is this reasonable do you think?..is suboxone addictive and how does it effect the bodys ability to flush the opioids or methadone out of your system

  10. I want to no what way I’m going to suffer after stopping methadone .I was buying off the streets and I was taking 20mills a day every day .now I have none.help me please I’m homeless and depression in county Longford

  11. After 3 weeks of methadone treatment I stopped going. I’ve been taking percocet 10mg everyday since stopping treatment anywhere between 50 and 70 mg a day of percocet. I feel like I’m going thru withdrawals even with the percocet. Is this even possible?

  12. I was taking methadone for about a year at 90mg a day and I stopped may 30th and began useing opiates until June 23rd when I went to detox I still tested positive for the methadone and I’ve been feeling like I have the flu and I have no energy my bones hurt my stomach hurts is there anything over the counter that I could take so I can feel better until this gets out of my system

  13. Please can someone help? my son is addicted to meth he is in withdrawals bad, but is in drug court because he was busted he isn’t allowed anything through this court what can we do to help him before he runs or has seizures

    1. Hi Linda. I suggest that you enroll your son into rehab program. Call the number you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best treatment for your son.

  14. Carole, methadone is a terrible drug! I’ve been prescribed it as a cheaper alternative for 6 years after being on morphine for many years after an almost fatal accident to my spine. I’m at day four of totally stopping! I would rather morphine withdrawal any day as the pain is so bad! Get off it like I’m doing and try some other alternative. My withdrawal was by accident as the country I now live in (Indonesia) has closed the clinic due to ceremonies and the hospital can not even contact any staff for assistance! So I’ve had enough and sick of the dependence it makes

  15. I’ve been on Methadone for approx. 10 years for severe back & neck pain after being a Paramedic.
    For the past 3 years I’ve been on 40 mg day and I want to get off of it. I turned 60 last year and want to be able to live without it. I weaned myself off of it very slowly and it’s day 24 today. I’m weak, trouble walking & we have stairs in our home. I have clonazepam 1 mg., Baclofen, and Gabapentin but these make me more tired but I’m taking them at different times of the day.
    Would you have any idea on how long I’m going to be feeling like this? Any help would be appreciated!
    Thank you, Carolee

  16. Can you tell me your source(s) for your statement “In general Methadone withdrawal symptoms are not as severe or intense as other opioid withdrawal symptoms.”? Do you – or does anyone – know why it is not as “severe or intense”? Thanks

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