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Methadone Withdrawal

Methadone has been successfully utilized for decades as an opioid replacement to treat addiction. While it is not a cure, it will help suppress withdrawal symptoms, which helps those battling a substance use disorder to stop abusing opioids. 

Methadone maintenance has been a highly sought out treatment option over the years, but the medication can be addictive when abused. Those who have become dependent on methadone can stop using the substance with treatment. The advancements in addiction recovery allow you to transition off the medication comfortably as you ease into the next chapter in your life.

What Are Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms?

Methadone’s primary purpose is to minimize withdrawal symptoms that result from heroin addiction or other opioids. Methadone is used to stop the effects of other drugs, and the sole purpose of a methadone detox program is to help clients gradually taper off opiates. Other medications may be given in addition to methadone to ease withdrawal symptoms.

The symptoms you might expect from methadone withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Cravings

If you have developed a severe addiction to methadone, you should expect your withdrawal symptoms to be much more intense. At this point, it would bode well if you commit yourself to a detox facility so that you can safely overcome your dependency on methadone.

What Are the Stages of Methadone Withdrawal Timeline?

Methadone withdrawal symptoms are going to vary from one person to another based on physiological and environmental factors. Some individuals may experience the effects for a few weeks, while others battle symptoms for months, or sometimes years.

The most common factors that will influence your timeline include:

  • The dose of methadone you’ve grown accustomed to using
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • If you abuse other drugs or alcohol in conjunction with methadone
  • The severity of your addiction
  • Relapse history
  • Support network
  • How long you’ve used methadone

A generalized methadone timeline consists of:

Day 1: You could experience your first symptoms as soon as 24 hours after your last dose. The most common of these include flu-like symptoms, which might be sweating, muscle aches, chills, or a fever. 

Days 2-10: The first week will be the hardest, and you must ensure you have a proper support system by checking into detox. Your experience might be smooth, but due to the unpredictable nature of methadone withdrawal, it could be severe. The most common symptoms include irritability, anxiety, hallucinations, cravings, and insomnia. 

Days 11-21: The worst symptoms will subside around day ten, but you are likely to experience cravings, mood swings, depression, or fatigue. You need a support system to help you overcome your desire to relapse. 

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Days 22 and Beyond: Symptoms can persist for weeks or months if you’ve consumed 40mg or more at a time. If you’ve used a smaller dose, your symptoms should be gone by week three, but it cannot be said for sure. 

Should I Detox?

You may be the type of person that doesn’t feel help is necessary, but overcoming drug addiction alone isn’t easy. It will be in your best interest to let down your walls and enter a medical detox facility so that all drug(s) or alcohol can be removed safely. By doing this, you will have a much easier time during a challenging process

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Detox is the most critical step in the continuum of care, but it is not enough to safeguard your newly founded sobriety. It would be best if you considered residential or outpatient treatment to understand your drug addiction better. It will provide you with the tools necessary for long-term abstinence from methadone. 

Sources

Mitchell, S. G., Kelly, S. M., Brown, B. S., Reisinger, H. S., Peterson, J. A., Ruhf, A., . . . Schwartz, R. P. (2009, June). Incarceration and opioid withdrawal: The experiences of methadone patients and out-of-treatment heroin users. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2838492/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

Methadone maintenance treatment. (1970, January 01). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310658/

Methadone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682134.html

Withdrawal Management. (1970, January 1). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/

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