Methadone is a prescription opioid that can be used to treat addiction to heroin and other opioid drugs.
Although methadone is not as addictive as other opioids, it can still lead to dependence and addiction, making withdrawal potentially difficult. If you’re working with a doctor, the doctor will supervise your withdrawal to help minimize the symptoms.
Just like withdrawal from any addictive substance, the timeline for methadone withdrawal varies based on circumstances like the overall physical condition of the person, how long they have used the drug, if they are using other drugs or alcohol, what the buildup of the drug is in the body, and whether they are medically supervised or going “cold turkey.”
Methadone withdrawal symptoms can last up to 6 weeks in those with severe or long-term addiction. Although there are many methadone “withdrawal kits” available, there is little data so far to support or deny their efficacy. Professionals recommend that medical detoxification be used to protect the patient from life-threatening situations.
Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline (varies with each person)
Symptoms will begin within 24 hours to three days. The most severe symptoms begin within the first few days, and most symptoms will subside between three and six weeks.
- 1st 24 hours: chills, fever, and nausea
- 2 to 12 days: intense cravings, insomnia, paranoia, hallucinations, extreme irritability. and anxiety
- 13 to 22 days: less severe symptoms, but cravings may still be strong; depression may develop
- After day 22: depression and cravings may linger but with less intensity; overall, people feel much better at this stage and can begin recovery
After withdrawal, residential treatment is recommended to deal with recurring depression issues and intermittent cravings. Most people who do not attend twelve-step meetings or complete intensive treatment will relapse. For that reason, methadone symptom withdrawal is seen as the first step in recovery, after which the person can begin building a drug-free life.
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Methadone: Uses, Side Effects & Warnings – Drugs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved June, 2016.