Methadone Withdrawal: Signs, Symptoms, and Half-Life

Methadone Clinic

Recovering from substance abuse disorder will vary from one patient to another, depending on the collection of substances they have trouble with. Every drug has an individual recovery plan that a drug rehab facility will help a patient through inpatient or outpatient means. Most recovery plans involve behavioral therapy and prescriptive medication to help a person overcome their addiction.

One treatment, specifically for opioid withdrawal, requires a regular regimen of taking Methadone. It’s a form of medication included in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people with opioid addiction. Although it’s generally for the betterment of a patient with substance abuse disorder, methadone abuse can also be another form of addiction that a person can develop while in recovery.

What does Methadone do?

Rehab doctors prescribe Methadone for people suffering from a dependence on opioids to give them a long-term option to prevent relapses. Additionally, it provides relief for severe chronic pain a person can feel when recovering from opioid addiction. The medicine works well to mitigate cases of overdose deaths due to opioid addiction. However, the risk of suffering from methadone withdrawal symptoms can be a serious issue as well.

Methadone alters your brain and nervous system’s response to pain, which allows you to experience relief. Although it has similar effects with painkillers like morphine, its effects are much slower since its primary function is to handle chronic pain from post-surgery pain or long-term illnesses.

Methadone prevents a person’s opioid withdrawal symptoms in the right doses without inducing a feeling of sedation or high. People can take Methadone for months or years, depending on their need to flush out opioid dependence. However, since it’s a synthetic opioid, it can also lead to opioid withdrawal if you take too much of the prescribed dose or stop the medication immediately.

What are Methadone’s withdrawal symptoms?

A person’s experience with methadone withdrawal will vary, depending on their current dosage and frequency of use. It can be less intense than heroin withdrawal. Alternatively, it can be much worse for people than experiencing short-acting opioids.

Like a regular form of opioid withdrawal, you will experience vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and a general feeling of the bad flu. This should peak within a couple of days and start resolving itself.

Dealing with acute methadone withdrawal symptoms can last up to 14 days. Keep in mind that your symptoms can start mild and become more severe over time. Some acute symptoms you should expect are as follows:

  • Teary eyes
  • Cramping and diarrhea
  • Nausea-induced vomiting
  • Chills
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Bone and joint pain

Besides these physical symptoms, you’ll also develop neurological conditions like anxiety, restlessness, low tolerance for stress, irritability, and insomnia. Post-acute withdrawal is also a severe issue that can begin after your detox period. These symptoms will manifest in people who are long-term opioid abusers. Since opioids affect how your brain functions by stimulating its neurotransmitters, your brain will be more prone to suffering from harmful states. For some patients, the neurological effects of post-acute withdrawal symptoms prevent them from committing to their recovery plan. Nevertheless, it’s important to stick to your physician’s program on your road to being healthier.

Methadone withdrawal
Methadone Half Life

Can I get addicted to Methadone?

Since it’s a form of opioid, your body can develop a tolerance for it in the long term. This will require you to take larger doses to feel similar effects. Dealing with drug tolerance can lead to a dangerous misstep to your opioid recovery. Besides the potential of methadone withdrawal, overdosing from Methadone can be fatal. For this reason, it’s best to consult with your physician about any potential side effects you experience while under methadone treatment.

What are Methadone’s side effects?

Although Methadone is necessary for opioid addiction recovery, it also has common side effects of its own. This includes vomiting, tiredness, constipation, sleepiness, and others. You can also have neurological symptoms like hallucinations, drowsiness, appetite changes, and sexual problems. These mild effects can go away within the first few days of treatment. However, if these conditions persist, it’s best to consult your doctor about your current dosage and current condition.

What should I expect from a methadone treatment?

If you’re taking Methadone for chronic pain, you can get a prescription from your doctor to purchase it in a pharmacy. On the other hand, people using it for opioid and narcotics recovery can get it in regular doses from a rehab facility program.

Methadone can come in powder, tablet, and liquid forms. Your provider in the rehab facility can give you the right dosage that works best for you during treatment. Additionally, they may change it depending on how you progress with your opioid recovery. Experts believe methadone prescriptions should be taken for at least a year. Afterward, your doctor will advise you on your future recovery options to mitigate the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Can I quit taking Methadone after I recover from opioid addiction?

Your doctor may recommend continuing methadone therapy indefinitely to prevent you from relapsing. However, you should be familiar with the potential consequences of doing so. If you’re using Methadone to treat pain, you will naturally become dependent on the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms once quitting or reducing your dosage.

Is methadone treatment for everyone?

Like any medication, Methadone can have dangerous effects on people with certain medical conditions. Taking Methadone can be harmful to people with heart conditions, liver and kidney disease, breathing problems, and electrolyte imbalances. Additionally, people with a history of dealing with head injuries, gallbladder, thyroid, and pancreas issues should avoid taking Methadone.

When checking yourself in a drug rehab facility, it’s important to give your full medical history to receive the right treatment and medication for your condition. This includes highlighting current medicines for other illnesses you may have.

What is Methadone’s half-life?

After successfully recovering from methadone withdrawal symptoms, you need to understand how it will remain in your system. After taking one methadone pill, its therapeutic effects can last as long as 8 hours. However, its half-life can last anywhere between 8 to 59 hours. Because of this, it will take between 2 to 14 days before you get complete system clearance from Methadone. Remember that these estimates are a general average. Some individuals can take longer or shorter to excrete Methadone from their bodies, depending on their physiological condition.


Taking Methadone is the right step towards overcoming your opioid addiction. Although it’s a medicine that aids in flushing out harmful materials in your system, remember that it’s not the only contributing factor to your recovery. Maintaining your fortitude to stay sober and receiving a medical professional’s help is the best way to ensure long-term independence from addictive substances.