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Methadone Withdrawal & Detox | How To Get Off Methadone

Published on December 3, 2020
man in hospital experiencing methadone withdrawal and detox

Methadone is a synthetic opioid agonist that can treat severe pain. 

In addition, because methadone is considered less dangerous than other opioids, many doctors use it to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings in people with opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder. 

However, if you don’t use it exactly as prescribed, methadone itself can be addictive. Addiction causes physical dependence. This means that when you try to stop taking the drug, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you love is addicted to methadone, it’s important to learn about the withdrawal process and how to safely detox. 

Methadone Withdrawal

People who are addicted to methadone usually start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within a few days after their last dose. The most common symptoms of methadone withdrawal include:

  • sweating
  • chills
  • restlessness
  • muscle aches
  • stomach cramps
  • back pain
  • joint pain
  • watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • anxiety
  • irritability 
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • diarrhea 

While these symptoms are uncomfortable, they’re typically not life-threatening and will fade within a few weeks. 

Still, to stay as safe and comfortable as possible, you should seek medical advice when withdrawing from methadone. In particular, you should attend a detoxification program followed by an addiction treatment program. 

Methadone Detox

When you enter a methadone detox program, health care providers will assess your situation and design a personalized detox plan. 

In most cases, they will gradually lower your dosage of methadone until the drug is completely out of your system. This process, which is called “tapering,” can make your withdrawal symptoms less intense. It may also prevent some withdrawal symptoms altogether. 

As you detox, the staff will monitor your physical and mental health 24/7. They may prescribe medications to ease certain withdrawal symptoms. 

Although medical detox helps you safely remove methadone from your system, it won’t resolve the psychological side of addiction. That’s why you’ll need to attend an addiction treatment center once you complete detox. 

Methadone Addiction Treatment

At an addiction treatment program, a team of medical professionals will help you address underlying issues that contributed to your methadone addiction. 

Available on an inpatient or outpatient basis, these programs offer services such as:

  • mental health counseling to help you identify triggers for drug use and develop healthy coping skills to prevent relapse
  • wellness activities like yoga, meditation, and exercise
  • support groups, where you can connect with other people who are recovering from drug addictions and share coping strategies

If you or a loved one is struggling with methadone addiction, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn more about our medical detox and substance abuse treatment programs.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Methadone
U.S. National Library of Medicine - Withdrawal Management
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Methadone

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