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How to Safely Detox From Methadone

Overcoming Methadone Addiction

The opioid epidemic has resulted in millions of misused prescriptions and thousands of deaths each year since it began in the late 1990s. Opioids are an addictive group of painkilling drugs that can be legitimately prescribed for numerous reasons, often to treat acute pain. But, if one misuses these drugs or takes them for prolonged periods, addiction can develop. People may resort to obtaining drugs from the illicit market if they can no longer get the medication prescribed by a doctor.

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Diamond House Detox is dedicated to helping individuals along the path to recovery. Call us at (800) 205-6107 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — to learn more about how to safely detox from methadone.

For some who struggle with drug addiction, what’s meant to be the answer only leads to a bigger problem. This is the case with methadone. This prescription medication is often used to help those who have an addiction to heroin or other opioids by mitigating withdrawal symptoms. However, clients who misuse their methadone prescription can become dependent on this drug instead, leading them to trade one addiction for another.

The dangers of opioid addiction are well-documented, but recovery is possible. Methadone is often used as part of the treatment plan for treating opioid addiction, helping to curb cravings. However, methadone is also an opioid itself.

If you have a methadone addiction, you should never attempt to quit on your own. A medically supervised detoxification program is an essential first step to breaking free from the drug’s grip. The team at Diamond House Detox provides a comfortable facility where those struggling with methadone addiction can allow the drug to work its way out of your body’s system in a safe environment. Learn about methadone use and what to expect when detoxing from methadone.

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What Is Methadone and How Is It Used?

Methadone is a synthetic agonist, which means it helps decrease the cravings associated with the detox process. This drug also blocks the effects of opioids. Methadone is commonly used as a part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is a comprehensive treatment approach that integrates medication, counseling and behavioral therapy to address substance use disorders.

Clients will typically undergo methadone treatment with doctor supervision. The medication can come in different forms, including a powder, liquid or diskette. Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) involves taking the medication daily to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The duration of methadone treatment varies from person to person. Some people may need to see their care team in person to take their methadone, while others may be able to take doses at home.

How Does Someone Become Addicted to Methadone?

This medication is used to help treat addiction, but is methadone addictive? Methadone is still an opioid, which means it is addictive, and there is potential for misuse. When administered by a doctor, a methadone treatment plan will include steps for safely tapering off the medication. Once someone begins misusing methadone, addiction can quickly become possible. Taking more methadone than prescribed and seeking prescriptions from multiple sources are both forms of misuse that can lead to addiction.

If you have a methadone addiction, you should never attempt to quit on your own. A medically supervised detoxification program is an essential first step to breaking free from the drug’s grip. The team at Diamond House Detox provides a comfortable facility where those struggling with methadone addiction can allow the drug to work its way out of your body’s system in a safe environment. Learn about the history of methadone, methadone use and what to expect when detoxing from methadone.

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When Is It Time to Ask for Help?

A methadone addiction can turn healthy and happy loved ones into depressed, drug-dependent versions of themselves. Knowing methadone addiction symptoms can help you or your loved one restore quality of life. 

A major indicator of methadone dependency is behavioral changes as someone starts misusing methadone or increasing their dosage. If you notice any of the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s time to ask for help:

  • Increased tolerance: If a methadone user develops a tolerance, they may start taking higher dosages to get the same effects as before. This is usually the first sign of an addiction.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Individuals misusing methadone experience unpleasant opioid withdrawal symptoms like depression or insomnia if they go too long without taking the drug.
  • Prioritizing methadone: Your loved one continually chooses methadone over responsibilities such as work or family gatherings.

Detoxing From Methadone: An Individualized Treatment Plan

If you are recovering from methadone addiction, undergoing an individualized treatment plan is essential. Our team at Diamond House Detox works with you to create a personalized treatment plan that includes personal goal-setting and post-treatment abstinence. To ensure success post-recovery, it’s essential to identify any underlying causes of substance use. What are the triggers or stressors that encourage use in the first place?

Our goal is to address the medical, mental, psychological and spiritual needs of our clients through dual diagnosis treatments. Dual diagnosis treatment is an integrated approach that seeks to address an individual’s co-occurring substance use disorder as well as any underlying mental health issues they may have. The initial goal of dual-diagnosis treatment is to address any underlying mental health issue. It’s almost impossible to be treated for a drug and alcohol addiction if you are not in control of the mental health issues that may have contributed to the addiction.

Examples of mental illnesses that co-occur with drug or alcohol addiction include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Detoxing from methadone can be different for different people, but the process poses several common symptoms. Following your last use of methadone, you can expect to begin experiencing withdrawal within a day to a day and a half. Initial symptoms can include lack of energy, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, sweating and a runny nose.

As time goes on, symptoms can become more pronounced and unpleasant. You may experience muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and severe cravings. Symptoms typically peak within three days, but you may experience some issues for a week or more following your last use of methadone. With people experiencing different symptoms on various timelines, detox calls for an individualized treatment plan.

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Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone withdrawal symptoms can be tough. In addition to providing 24-hour medical supervision, our team at Diamond House Detox offers emotional and mental support programs to ease symptoms and encourage abstinence. After the initial medical detox, our guests enter formal substance abuse treatment programs, which include counseling, rehab, social support meetings and other forms of post-detox recovery.

Methadone is usually prescribed to help individuals overcome opioid addiction. In some cases, people can become addicted to methadone in the place of the previous drug. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 3,194 people in the United States passed away from a methadone overdose in 2017 alone. Methadone is usually prescribed to help ease the withdrawal symptoms of other substances, including heroin and painkillers. Unfortunately, even people that are legally prescribed methadone can experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using it. These, in turn, can lead to addiction.

Although withdrawal symptoms associated with methadone are not as severe as what’s seen with other opioids, like heroin, recovery can still be uncomfortable. Withdrawal symptoms may take 2-4 days to develop and ease over ten days. At first, symptoms may feel similar to having the flu. Methadone withdrawal can peak around three days and can include cravings, depression, diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting.

The longer the use, the longer your methadone withdrawal timeline and tapering schedule will be. Tapering refers to the process of weaning the body off of a drug to ensure a healthier, more successful withdrawal. Often, withdrawal symptoms start to decline after the tenth day during the acute methadone withdrawal stage. Finally, in the post-acute withdrawal stage, most symptoms are emotional and can include anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Withdrawal symptoms for methadone may consist of:

  • Depression
  • Yawning
  • Increased tearing or watery eyes
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Shivering or trembling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Body aches
  • Drug cravings

Methadone Detox and Withdrawal Timelines

Withdrawal symptoms occur within around 30 hours of methadone use and can persist for 10 days afterward. Methadone withdrawal symptoms may last beyond this window, continuing for weeks and, in some cases, months after use. 

Stopping the use of methadone after dependence leads to acute withdrawal symptoms. In some instances, symptoms are so severe that people relapse. Our team at Diamond House Detox helps manage withdrawal symptoms, mitigating the risks of relapse and easing the severity of detox symptoms.

Methadone Withdrawal Timelines

Methadone withdrawal differs from person to person. Typically, withdrawal and recovery happens in three main phases — acute withdrawal, post-acute withdrawal and long-term recovery.

1. Acute Withdrawal

Acute withdrawal happens from the first 30 hours and peaks within the first three days. The acute phase typically lasts for 10 days before tapering. During the acute phase, methadone withdrawal symptoms may be severe and unpleasant:

  • Day one to three: Methadone is a long-acting opioid, meaning withdrawal does not occur as quickly as other opioids. Initial withdrawal symptoms reach a critical point from day three because the substance takes longer to wear off. 
  • Day four to ten: Withdrawal symptoms are acute during days three to eight, lasting up to 10 days or more in some cases. During acute withdrawal, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, excessive sweating and body aches.

2. Post-Acute Withdrawal

Methadone withdrawal symptoms may last weeks and months after detox. The post-acute or prolonged withdrawal phase typically begins by week three, and a person in recovery may experience the following symptoms for months:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

3. Long-Term Recovery

In the long term, most methadone withdrawal symptoms stop. At this stage, it is essential for a person in recovery to take steps to avoid relapse:

  • Get a support structure in place
  • Continue with therapy
  • Attend addiction recovery meetings
  • Avoid methadone misuse triggers
  • Stay in a healthy environment 

What Affects Methadone Withdrawal Timelines?

Methadone withdrawal symptoms’ severity and timelines are dependent on several factors:

  • Genetics: Some individuals have a genetic inclination toward addiction and may have family members who are in addiction recovery.
  • Environmental factors: The environment where methadone withdrawal happens is important. A supportive setting with medical professionals assisting the detox process and managing symptoms enhances the comfort and well-being of the person experiencing withdrawal. A stressful and unsupportive environment exacerbates symptoms and increases the likelihood of relapse. 
  • History of substance misuse: If a person has a history of misusing substances, the withdrawal process may be more complex. 
  • Age: Older adults may be less tolerant of the physiological symptoms during withdrawal. In some cases, older individuals experience withdrawal longer than young adults might. 
  • Overall health: Healthy individuals are less likely to experience prolonged complications from withdrawal. The more medical issues that happen during withdrawal, the longer the detox process may take. Mental health is also a factor that impacts withdrawal duration and addiction recovery.

How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your System?

Methadone is typically taken daily during MMT, but how long does the medication stay in your system? Once you take a dose of methadone, you will likely feel the benefits of the medication, such as reduced cravings, for about 24 hours. While you may no longer feel the effects of the medication, that does not mean it is completely cleared from your body.

The half-life of methadone is subject to debate, and factors like age, weight and gender affect the amount of time the medication stays in your system. The medication may be present in your body for days after you last take it.

Your age, weight and dosage can impact how long methadone stays in your system. While methadone typically takes about two weeks to exit your system, traces of the drug can appear long after. 

While standard drug tests can identify opioids like heroin and morphine, they do not indicate methadone misuse — this drug requires more specific tests. Some tests used to check for methadone in an individual’s system include:

  • Blood: Blood tests are an accurate testing option, as they show methadone up to 30 minutes after using and remain detectable for a few days.
  • Hair: Hair tests can test for long-term methadone misuse, as traces of the drug remain in the hair for months after use.
  • Saliva: Saliva tests are a convenient option. They can detect traces of methadone up to 30 minutes after ingestion, and the drug remains present in the saliva for a few days after use.
  • Urine: Urine tests are most common for testing methadone use. The drug presents in an individual’s urine as early as one hour after use and remains for up to two weeks.

Some people want to detox in the privacy of their own homes, but the client’s safety and well-being are top priorities during the withdrawal process. Detox is always best overseen by medical professionals. When experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you are at increased risk of returning to opioid use to lessen your pain and discomfort.

If you undergo detox in a safe, supervised environment, a care team can help you manage your symptoms and ensure you do not have access to opioids. Going through methadone detox at a treatment center can also provide clients with the motivation and support they need from staff and others going through the same process

Regardless of how you became addicted to methadone, slowly reducing your dosage or tapering with a detox center is the safest way to quit. Tapering can aid in preventing severe withdrawal symptoms and decrease the risk of potential medical problems. Additional tips for overcoming a methadone addiction include:

  1. Set a quit date: It may be helpful to set your quitting date as a meaningful event, like a birthday or anniversary.
  2. Change your environment: Removing any reminders of your methadone addiction from your home or workspace can make it easier to move past it.
  3. Find productive distractions: Develop alternative activities you can do instead of using, such as going on a walk or talking to a family member. 
  4. Review your past attempts: If you have tried to quit before, think about what happened and what went wrong to make the correct changes.
  5. Create a support group: Creating a support network of friends, family or an addiction center’s team members will give you access to encouragement and support at any time to help you end your addiction.

Depending on your needs, your doctor may prescribe additional medications to ease the symptoms of methadone withdrawal. Some of your treatment options include:

  • Clonidine: Can aid in treating conditions like rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
  • Pepto Bismol: Treats stomach issues like diarrhea.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications: Aids in managing symptoms such as headaches or bone pain.
  • Benadryl: Can help reduce insomnia symptoms.

Quitting methadone cold turkey can be difficult. If you are wondering about methadone detox vs. cold turkey, detox is the safer, more effective choice. The cold turkey route is likely not dangerous, but it does mean you will experience severe withdrawal symptoms, which can increase your risk of relapsing.

A carefully laid out plan for tapering your doses will mean any symptoms you do experience will not be as pronounced. You can discuss your symptoms with your provider, who can make adjustments as needed throughout the tapering process.

Detoxification is the process of allowing a drug, like methadone, to work its way out of your system. The length of this process varies depending on how long you used the drug and how high your dosage was. But in general, most clients are able to detox in a few weeks. However, many avoid detoxing because they fear the withdrawal symptoms. When your body becomes dependent on methadone, it reacts strongly when you either decrease your usage or quit cold turkey.

A detox program, like what you’ll find at Diamond House Detox, ensures you are monitored 24-hours a day for your safety and so our medically qualified team can address your withdrawal symptoms as they arise.

Here are a few things you can expect during the detox process:

To ensure we can provide you with an individualized treatment plan, we need to understand everything we can about your condition. That’s why the first step in your detox involves an evaluation performed by either a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Some questions that the medical professional conducting the evaluation might ask a client include:

  • What is your current dose of methadone?
  • Where are you in your overall addiction recovery

Once health care providers understand your needs, they can begin to build a detox plan that works for you. Not only can they assess your level of addiction and where you are in the withdrawal process, but they also use this time to determine if you have an underlying mental health condition. Many clients come to us with undiagnosed psychiatric symptoms, and we can treat them during your stay. This is called a co-occurring disorder.

Learning about a client’s co-occurring disorders can help us personalize their treatment plan and ensure they receive care for their mental health condition and substance use disorder. Treating both conditions can help make the road to recovery successful.

We recognize that no detox plan is a one-size-fits-all treatment. Everyone is different and has individual goals, concerns and needs. That’s why we work with you to customize your methadone addiction treatment plan. A customized treatment plan will involve a precise timeline and dosage for tapering off methadone.

Detoxification is always the first step, but how we attempt this process varies from person to person. Certain clients may require more supervision and medical attention, while others are relatively OK during the entire detoxification process. However, all guests are monitored all day, every day to ensure their safety and to make sure their withdrawal symptoms and cravings are under control. Since certain withdrawal symptoms can become too strong for some clients, medical staff may need to provide more care and attention to their detox treatment plan.

For some guests, we also recommend therapy sessions. Our therapy program allows you to identify any problem areas that may need addressing during your recovery process.

Substance use disorder is a chronic condition, which means relapse is possible. It’s beneficial to continue ongoing care after the initial treatment is complete to stay on track and continue living a healthy lifestyle.

We are committed to the sobriety of each of our guests, even after your time with us is over. That’s why we encourage you to enter some sort of post-detox treatment, whether it be rehab, counseling or drug addiction meetings. These programs allow you to identify stressors that may have led to your methadone addiction and to come up with skills and methods to avoid a relapse.

Your care team will discuss other medication options, as well as counseling and behavioral therapy options for you. Once you detox, you will want to continue to move forward with your recovery, and regular follow-up care will be important.

With Diamond House Detox, You’ll Never Detox Alone

Detoxing alone is dangerous. Although the withdrawal symptoms associated with methadone abuse are moderate, clients may encounter some severe health risks. Medical supervision ensures that if an issue arises, you have a team on hand to care for you. Detox clinics also help mitigate symptoms and put you on the road to a successful recovery.

At Diamond House Detox, we offer you a safe, comfortable place to go through detox. We aim to address substance use and the mental health and spiritual needs of all our guests. We take an individual approach in a residential setting designed to make you feel ready to rebuild your life.

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If you’re ready to break your methadone addiction, then it’s time to contact Diamond House Detox. We have two luxurious facilities located in Northern California where you will find the help you need. Learn more about our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs today.

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