Methadone Detox and Addiction Treatment

Methadone Recovery

Originally, methadone was intended to treat opioid use disorder. But, methadone itself is also highly addictive. A long-acting synthetic opioid, methadone, may cause severe withdrawal symptoms, making methadone detox challenging. 

Sana Lake Recovery can help you safely detox from methadone and achieve lasting recovery. Because methadone withdrawals can be severe and last a month or more, people often go back to using to ease methadone withdrawals. Don’t go through methadone detox alone; let our experienced professionals help you find Recovery for Life.

What is Methadone?

Methadone Withdrawals

Methadone, a long-acting synthetic opioid, reduces opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It also works by blocking or lowering the effects of opioids. Approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), methadone is also used in pain management. 

Side effects of methadone may include:

  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle pains
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Lower body temperature

Methadone is effective in helping people achieve recovery and live meaningful lives. However, methadone must be combined with behavioral therapies and holistic therapies to maintain lasting recovery. 

How Do People Develop a Methadone Addiction?

Every year more and more people are prescribed painkillers which means more and more people struggle with an addiction to pain medications. Often these medications are oxycodone or hydrocodone-based drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin

But, methadone is also often used to treat chronic pain, which the FDA does not recommend. However, in 2009, doctors wrote over 4 million prescriptions of methadone to treat pain. This is mainly because methadone is inexpensive compared to oxycodone or hydrocodone. 

Furthermore, insurance companies often cover methadone and not opioid painkillers. So, people are forced to choose methadone to save money. But, this only leads to an increase in methadone misuse and addiction. 

What Are the Signs of Methadone Addiction?

Methadone is a long-acting drug that is less powerful than short-acting opioids. However, it can still produce the same effects as the more potent opioids such as heroin and OxyContin. For this reason, people often misuse methadone. But, how can friends and family recognize methadone misuse?

Signs of methadone addiction include:

  • Sweating
  • Rash or hives
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in arms and legs
  • Mood swings
  • Irrational
  • Being secretive
  • Isolation
  • Stealing or borrowing money
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Decrease in appearance and hygiene

What are Methadone Withdrawals?

Methadone

When methadone is taken in high doses, it can be physically addictive. While methadone is commonly used to treat an addiction to opioids, it often leads to misuse and exchanging one substance use disorder for another.

Similar to other opioids, a tolerance to methadone develops quickly. As a result, users need more of the drug to achieve the same effects. However, once a person misusing methadone can’t function normally without methadone, dependence has developed. Furthermore, without methadone, a dependent person will go through methadone withdrawals. 

People experience methadone withdrawals because the body doesn’t know to function without the drug. In other words, methadone withdrawals are the body trying to repair itself. This process can be extremely uncomfortable. It often leaves people asking how long is methadone withdrawal.

What Are the Signs of Methadone Withdrawals?

Similar to opioids such as morphine and heroin, methadone withdrawals can be mild to severe. At the same time, methadone stays in the body longer, causing many to struggle through methadone detox. 

Common symptoms of methadone withdrawals include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations

Those who have severe addictions to methadone often go through severe methadone withdrawals. Moreover, people who misuse multiple substances may have a more intense and more prolonged methadone detox.

How Long Is Methadone Withdrawal?

Methadone withdrawals like withdrawal from other drugs depend on the individual, the length of use, and co-occurring disorders. However, a person typically experiences methadone withdrawals within 24 hours of last use. But, it may take up to 60 hours for methadone to leave the body and methadone withdrawals to begin.

While the first 7 to 10 days are generally the worst, detox from methadone can take much longer. For instance, some methadone withdrawals may not peak till day seven. When methadone withdrawals peak, the common symptoms include anxiety and flu-like symptoms. Over the next few weeks, methadone withdrawals will fade away.

Timeline: How Long Does It Take To Get Off Methadone?

Methadone Addiction

Days 1-2 – Typically, methadone withdrawals begin within 30 hours of last use. Although, it may take longer. Physical symptoms of methadone detox such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and rapid heartbeat begin at this time. 

Days 3-8 – During this week, methadone withdrawals such as cravings are very strong. Anxiety and irritability may start as well as continued flu-like methadone withdrawals. For some in detox from methadone, symptoms will begin around day 4 or 5. 

Days 9-15 – For those who have already had their methadone withdrawals peak, their symptoms will start fading. Although, some symptoms such as irritability and physical discomfort will remain. Cravings for methadone may also still be intense during this time, while some develop severe depression. 

Days 15+ – Methadone withdrawals such as low energy, anxiety, sleep issues, and cravings generally last up to 3 weeks. But, after three weeks, some in detox from methadone experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS. These symptoms can last up to 2 years and include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Poor concentration

How Do You Detox from Methadone Safely?

Quitting methadone cold-turkey is never advisable. It can lead to more severe methadone withdrawals. Typically, doctors advise their patients to taper off methadone to reduce withdrawal symptoms and make methadone detox less uncomfortable. 

A medical detox program is the safest way to detox from methadone. Going through medical detox from methadone also leads to a higher chance of lasting recovery. Generally, medical methadone detox programs include medication-assisted treatment or MAT to taper down and can take up to a year to complete. 

What Treatment Is Available After Methadone Detox?

After completing detox from methadone, it is crucial to continue into a methadone addiction treatment program. Addiction treatment centers such as Sana Lake Recovery offer individualized treatment plans, physicians, and therapists to help members rebuild their lives. 

For members struggling with moderate to severe methadone addiction, an inpatient or residential program is the most beneficial. These programs provide 24-hour supervision and medical treatment, psychotherapy and group therapy, and relapse prevention skills. 

However, for those new to misusing methadone, an outpatient treatment program may be helpful. Outpatient programs are also beneficial after completing an inpatient treatment program. Outpatient programs often come in different levels of outpatient care such as:

Before leaving medical detox from methadone, members, therapists, and doctors will discuss the next best treatment step. However, if a member decides not to go to treatment, they typically lose access to medication-assisted treatment as well. 

What Medications Treat Methadone Addiction?

Whether people develop a methadone addiction from treating opioid addiction or use methadone recreationally, treatment requires a combination of medical detox from methadone, medication-assisted treatment, and comprehensive therapies.

Because methadone is an opioid, recovery and treatment require a person to go through detox from methadone. While in detox, a person starts the taper down process from methadone. As a result, they are often switched to a new medication.

Medications used in treatment and detox from methadone include:

  • Buprenorphine – While the FDA strictly regulates methadone, buprenorphine is the first FDA-approved medication for opioid addictions that offers more flexibility. For instance, with morphine, people have to visit a clinic every day. But with buprenorphine, people can take it at home. While this drug has similar qualities to methadone, it has a lower potential for misuse. 
  • L-alpha-acetylmethadol (LAAM) – This Schedule II drug is often used in opioid addiction treatment as an alternative to methadone. But, with long-term use, this drug may have side effects such as rash, nausea, abnormal liver function, and increased blood pressure.
  • Psychiatric medications – Going through methadone withdrawals often leads to emotional and mental health struggles such as depression and anxiety. However, there are various medications used to ease these issues. 

Co-Occurring Disorders and Detox From Methadone

It is common for those struggling with methadone addiction to also struggle with co-occurring disorders such as depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, and other medical issues. People with mental health struggles tend to self-medicate to ease their symptoms. 

But, this typically adds to the struggles leaving people also to fight a substance use disorder. For this reason, admittance into treatment centers such as Sana Lake Recovery includes a thorough evaluation for all co-occurring conditions. 

Because a person can only truly recover when they have addressed and overcome their traumas, mental health struggles, and methadone addiction, comprehensive treatment is needed to overcome methadone addiction.

Methadone Detox and Treatment at Sana Lake Recovery

Are you or a loved one struggling with an addiction to methadone? You do not have to face your struggles alone. At Sana Lake, we walk with you every step of the way. From your first step into detox to your last step out of treatment and beyond, our team is only a call away. 

So, what is stopping you from a better life? Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

References:

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/methadone

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment