Methadone Detox

Methadone is a synthetic opioid commonly used as a replacement for other, more powerful opioids, such as heroin. As such, it can reduce cravings for a person’s drug of choice as well as withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is strictly regulated and can only be prescribed by addiction treatment centers and medical providers who have been certified to do so. Despite its potentially effective therapeutic uses, methadone still has the potential for abuse. Furthermore, dependence is almost a foregone conclusion, considering that the reason it is being administered is to treat opioid addiction. When this occurs, a methadone detox in a clinical environment may be needed. Like all drug and alcohol detox programs, the primary goals are to relieve withdrawal symptoms, continuously monitor the individual to ensure safety and comfort, and prevent relapse. Specialized detox clinics and substance abuse treatment centers also offer emotional support and a segue way into a comprehensive, long-term treatment program. Given the state of the opioid epidemic in the United States, it’s not surprising that in recent years, methadone has increasingly become abused and available as a product of drug diversion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, methadone was one of the top three prescription opioids involved in overdose deaths.  One reason for this is because people who are prescribed methadone tend to have a high risk of relapse already. Furthermore, methadone can reduce a person’s opioid tolerance, meaning that relapse also comes with a higher risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

Who Needs a Methadone Detox?

Methadone detox is recommended for those who somehow manage to misuse a methadone prescription or abuse it illicitly. Signs of dependence or addiction may include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Impaired judgment
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Drowsiness and nodding off
  • Profoundly depressed respiration*
  • Impaired concentration
  • Flushed skin
  • Itchiness and rashes
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Impaired memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Loss of libido

*The hallmark sign of a life-threatening overdose. If someone around you is experiencing this, please call 911 immediately.

Methadone Withdrawal

Because it’s an opioid, the withdrawal symptoms associated with methadone dependence can be challenging to bear, but they are not typically as severe as those of heroin withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal is not usually life-threatening unless severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea occur. Regardless, some symptoms can be highly unpleasant and painful, and a medically-supervised detox is almost always recommended. Symptoms of Methadone withdrawal include the following:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Disorientation
  • Drug cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline harmonyrecoverync

Dependence on short-acting opioids such as heroin can onset in just a few hours. However, methadone is longer-acting, and therefore, withdrawal symptoms are more likely to begin 24-36 hours after the last dose. Most physical symptoms and severe emotional struggles will usually have subsided after about a week. However, some may continue to encounter withdrawal symptoms up to six months following detox. People undergoing withdrawal often describe the experience as having a particularly nasty case of the flu, with symptoms peaking at around 72 hours.  The following is a typical timeline for methadone withdrawal symptoms: 30-48 Hours

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Watery eyes
  • Frequent yawning

36-60 Hours

  • Stomach cramps
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Drug cravings
  • Goosebumps
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Severe nausea
  • Vomiting

1-2 Weeks

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of energy

Alternatives to Methadone to Treat Opioid Addiction

Those who need treatment for methadone dependence itself have some pharmaceutical alternatives available. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Buprenorphine (as found in Suboxone) for the treatment of opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is an opioid that produces minimal euphoria, and its effects have a plateau at which they cannot become any more intense. 

Getting Treatment for Methadone Addiction

Once a person completes methadone detox, he or she mustn’t return to abusing opioids. People in recovery are especially vulnerable to overdose because their drug tolerance has been lowered. If they try to return to their previous level of use, their bodies may not be able to handle it, and this could result in life-threatening circumstances. Because methadone is used to address opioid addiction, many people using it have already gone through an addiction treatment program. Unfortunately, addiction is a chronic, incurable disease, and it’s not uncommon for its sufferers to need more than one round in some type of long-term rehab. Harmony Recovery Centers offers outpatient detox and medication-assisted treatment intended to help individuals withdrawal from methadone or other substances more safely and comfortably. Following detox, we urge patients to enroll in one of our comprehensive treatment programs that include evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and aftercare planning. Are you ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier, and drug-free life? If so, contact us today to find out how we help people who are motivated to reclaim their lives from addiction, once and for all!

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