Methadone is a medication that can be used to treat an opioid addiction. Methadone is an opioid itself, and it can be habit forming. People who take the drug for an extended period of time can become addicted. A structured detox program is often needed to safely withdrawal from the opioid, as detox can be unpleasant and uncomfortable if methadone is stopped suddenly. Choosing a medically supervised detox program can ensure a safe and effective withdrawal process.
If you or someone you love wants to stop the cycle of methadone abuse, it’s helpful to know what to expect. This is not to scare you or turn you away from detox but rather to prepare you for the process. The methadone withdrawal timeline starts around 24 hours from the last dose. Let’s explore in further detail what to expect from the timeline.
Methadone Withdrawal Timeline: A Complete Guide
Methadone is a long-acting opioid, with withdrawal symptoms usually peaking around a day from the last time the user got high off methadone. Acute methadone withdrawal can last for up to three weeks, but symptoms significantly improve after 10 days. During the first 10 days, symptoms feel a lot like a severe flu. Also common is psychological symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia.
First 24 Hours
Physical symptoms are typically first to appear. Symptoms include chills, fever, rapid heartbeat and muscle aches. The side effects start to manifest 24-30 hours from the last dose of methadone, which is longer than many other drugs because of its long half-life. For the next couple of days, users will continue to feel like they have a violent flu.
Once users enter Day 2, the withdrawal symptoms worsen. According to the methadone withdrawal timeline, the next week or so brings strong cravings for the drug, hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia and anxiety. The physical symptoms continue as well.
At this point in the timeline, the flu-like symptoms should begin to subside. Any relief is welcome and can provide the body with more energy to continue on with recovery. Unfortunately, the physical symptoms are often replaced with depression, which usually sets in around Day 11. Depression can turn severe and prevent some patients from experiencing pleasure.
After three weeks of tapering off methadone, users should feel very few side effects. If there are any lingering symptoms, they should be mild. Symptoms of depression may still be present as the body adjusts to not being on methadone. Participating in counseling or an inpatient treatment program is helpful in managing these emotions.
Most Common Symptoms of Methadone Withdrawal
According to the methadone withdrawal symptoms timeline, users are most likely to experience the following effects:
Strong cravings for methadone
Aches in the muscles and bones
Stomach cramping or pain
Though each person is unique, the withdrawal timeline for methadone takes on the same form for all users. What makes the process different is the intensity of these symptoms, how long the symptoms last and the way they are received by the individual. For example, users who have been on methadone for a long time and take a higher dose generally experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.
However, methadone is highly addictive, leaving no one immune to its effects. Users who have taken a small dose as part of a maintenance program can still be addicted and experience withdrawal symptoms. The best thing to do is speak with a professional treatment center that can offer a more accurate picture of what to expect in your specific circumstances.
Easing the Symptoms of Methadone Withdrawal
As unsettling as it can be to read through the symptoms of methadone withdrawal, remember that you or your loved one is not alone in the journey. First of all, methadone users should always detox under the supervision of a doctor. This prevents withdrawal symptoms from becoming life threatening. It’s not recommended to quit on your own or quit cold turkey.
Not only will a medically supervised detox center ensure that you or a loved one withdrawals from methadone safely, but also there are conventional and alternative treatments that can be used to ease withdrawal symptoms. Treatment centers like The River Source generally taper off the drug over the course of a few weeks, gradually reducing the dosage. We also offer a number of medications that can help manage methadone withdrawal symptoms, such as:
Buprenorphine: This medication is sometimes used to manage withdrawal, and it can reduce the amount of time it takes to detox from methadone. Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid. It blocks the euphoric effects of additional opioids and reduces the risk of misuse.
Benzodiazepines: Benzos are sometimes used to treat severe anxiety and insomnia, though they are addictive, so other options may be considered. Non-addictive prescriptions such as trazodone are often preferred in methadone recovery.
Clonidine: Clonidine is a medication that can relieve symptoms of anxiety and agitation associated with withdrawal. It also works on symptoms such as runny noses, sweating, cramping and goosebumps.
Zofran: This medication is used to treat nausea, and it can help prevent dehydration and an imbalance in electrolytes. Additional medicines that may be used to treat diarrhea and vomiting are Imodium and Compazine.
Baclofen: Baclofen is used to reduce the pain associated with muscle cramps and spasms.
Naltrexone: This drug is used to help prevent relapse after methadone treatment. It works by blocking the effects of opioids and reducing cravings. It’s available by pill or injection.
Holistic Therapies Used in Methadone Detox
As you or a loved one goes through the methadone withdrawal symptoms timeline, the goal is to keep you as comfortable as possible. That’s why our detox center has naturopathic doctors available as well as medical supervision 24 hours a day. Anything that is needed during this time can be handled on our end, leaving no patient alone as they safely get off methadone.
Aside from medication-assisted treatment, we also offer a wide range of alternative therapies.
Vitamin IV therapy: Our solution contains a mix of high b’s and c’s, complex b 5, 6 and 12’s, calcium, zinc and magnesium to restore the body and aid in natural healing. Our IVs are tailor-made for each individual based on their needs.
Oral vitamin therapy: Oral vitamins are available in pills, powders and drops. These options allow for maximum effectiveness.
Sauna treatments: The goal of infrared sauna therapy is to sweat out the toxins in the body. When the toxins exit the body and essential nutrients and vitamins are put back in, patients feel healthier and stronger in a shorter amount of time.
Massage therapy: Massages are also effective at releasing toxins from the body. They are also extremely helpful in reducing muscle and body aches, promoting healthy sleep and decreasing anxiety and depression.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been highly successful in assisting in detox from drugs and alcohol. By targeting specific points in the body, acupuncture can reduce methadone cravings, relieve withdrawal symptoms and reduce anxiety.
Most therapies are included in the base cost of The River Source’s detox program. For more information about our medically supervised detox center and its costs, please call us today.
Complications of Methadone Withdrawal
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, nothing about misuse and abuse is easy – except for becoming addicted. Even if you or a loved one go through the methadone withdrawal timeline in a textbook fashion and are symptom-free in a couple of weeks, there are still complications to be aware of. Some of the biggest concerns associated with withdrawal are relapse and overdose.
Abstaining from the drug for a short period of time decreases your tolerance to methadone. If you are to relapse and you use the same amount of the drug, the risk for overdose goes way up. This scenario is one of the most common reasons why heroin users overdose. They are clean for a while, and this lowers their tolerance. When they relapse and take the dose they are accustomed to, they end up overdosing.
In addition, it’s important to pay attention to anxiety and irritability. These symptoms can be severe and lead to depression or suicide in some individuals. Talking with a therapist can be helpful in managing these feelings. Also, many medications are available to boost neurotransmitters in the brain and combat some of the negative thinking processes.
Continuing Treatment for Methadone Addiction
With the risk of relapse and overdose, it’s highly recommended to participate in a treatment program following withdrawal from methadone. It’s helpful to be in a safe, supportive environment for the next month or two. Returning home may be distracting to your recovery. Included in a treatment program are counseling, life skills workshops and continued access to therapies like massage and acupuncture.
Today, there are many different treatment programs available for methadone addiction, including outpatient and inpatient. Some treatment is always better than no treatment, so talk to an addiction recovery center like The River Source to learn more about your options. By bolstering your detox program with 30+ days of treatment, you greatly improve your chances of staying sober.
The River Source is a holistic treatment center that is experienced in treating methadone addictions. Call us today so that we can assess your needs and get you or a loved one the care that is so well deserved!