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How Long Does Methadone Detox Take?

Last Updated on November 20, 2023
adam zagha of numa detox and rehab in los angeles
Writer: Adam Zagha
Clinical Reviewer: Ariana Gravanis

In an all too common scenario, you've been using methadone to treat pain and lessen opioid withdrawal symptoms. You find it has helped, as intended, but you've noticed an unwanted methadone dependence as a result. Now you are looking for a way out of this. So how long does it take to detox from methadone?

From initiating the detox process and establishing a timeline to managing the ensuing symptoms of methadone withdrawal, this article will help you understand what to expect and how NUMA Recovery Centers can guide you every step in your detox journey. Continue reading to find out more.

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Quick Points

  • Detox from methadone starts within 24-48 hours after the last dose, with duration varying by individual.

  • The methadone withdrawal timeline is divided into stages: initial 24 hours, 24-48 hours, 3-5 days, and 5-10 days, each with distinct challenges.

  • Tapering methadone doses gradually is crucial to minimize withdrawal symptoms and manage dependence.

  • Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can persist, requiring ongoing medical support and monitoring.

  • NUMA Recovery Centers provide comprehensive aid for methadone detox

How Long Will Detoxing from Methadone Take?

Detoxing is an important first step for anyone struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges.

The timeline for detoxing is based on several factors. Some individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms for a few weeks, while others might face severe withdrawal symptoms for a longer time.

A higher methadone dosage or prolonged methadone use typically leads to more severe withdrawal symptoms, so be ready to have an extended period of detoxing.

Addiction medicine specialists recognize that symptoms of methadone withdrawal are less intense than those from other opioids (i.e. heroin, morphine, codeine) but are more prolonged.

It's important to understand that your detox from methadone isn't a race. The focus should be on safely reducing dependence while managing withdrawal symptoms.

Common Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone withdrawal typically presents a unique set of challenges, especially for those who have been using it to treat opioid addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), methadone withdrawal symptoms can be quite diverse, affecting individuals differently.

Common symptoms of methadone withdrawal include:

  • Physical Discomfort: Individuals quitting methadone often experience flu-like symptoms such as body aches, fever, and chills.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are frequent during the initial stages of withdrawal.

  • Emotional and Mental Health Fluctuations: Anxiety, depression, and irritability are common, underscoring the intersection between substance abuse and mental health.

In addiction medicine, it's understood that post-acute withdrawal symptoms (symptoms that occur after the initial withdrawal phase) can persist for weeks or even months. This emphasizes the need for ongoing support and monitoring by a medical professional throughout the medical detox process.

Remember, the experience of methadone withdrawal is deeply personal, and what one person experiences may differ from another.

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

Let's talk about what happens when you decide to step back from methadone, especially after relying on it for opioid dependence.

In the following sections, we'll get into what you can expect during each phase of methadone withdrawal. This timeline serves as a guide to help you understand the general stages of methadone withdrawal symptoms and to prepare you for what's ahead.

First 24 Hours

In the first 24 hours of the methadone withdrawal process, you’re likely to notice the initial changes as your body starts adjusting. This period is typically more about subtle shifts rather than drastic changes, especially if you’re tapering down gradually.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Beginning of Withdrawal: Methadone withdrawal typically kicks in subtly. If you’re on a tapering schedule, the onset of symptoms might be less intense.

  • Physical Sensations: You might experience mild discomfort or a sense of unease. It's not uncommon to feel a little off, but it shouldn't be overwhelming.

  • Methadone Dependence Adjustment: Your body is starting to adapt to functioning with less methadone. Your system will now try to recalibrate.

This first day is like the body’s quiet introduction to the upcoming journey – a soft start before the more significant adjustments in the days to follow. Be ready.

24-48 hours

During these crucial 24 to 48 hours after your last dose of methadone, symptoms will start to intensify.

Here's what you might encounter:

  • Physical Reactions: Common signs could include muscle aches or gastrointestinal discomfort. It’s your body signaling its adjustment to a lower dose or absence of the drug.

  • Emotional Shifts: Emotionally, this period can feel like a rollercoaster. You might find yourself feeling more anxious or irritable.

  • Impact of Tapering: If you've been tapering down your methadone use, this stage might be less jarring. The taper schedule is there to help smooth out these rough patches.

Remember, getting through this phase requires a blend of patience and resilience. Each hour you push through is a stride toward overcoming your substance use.

3-5 Days

Reaching the 3 to 5-day mark into the methadone withdrawal timeline is when your body really starts to feel the adjustment.

The goal at this stage is to minimize withdrawal symptoms as much as possible. If you've been reducing your methadone use gradually, this can help make symptoms more manageable.

Here’s a breakdown of what this phase often looks like:

  • Heightened Withdrawal Symptoms: During this period, methadone withdrawal symptoms typically become more pronounced. You may notice an increase in physical discomfort, such as body aches or gastrointestinal issues.

  • Psychological Adjustments: For many dealing with a substance use disorder, this phase can be challenging not just physically, but emotionally as well. You might experience heightened anxiety or mood swings.

  • Post-Acute Awareness: It’s important to be aware of the potential for post-acute symptoms. These are typically less about physical discomfort and more about psychological and emotional well-being.

Remember, to gradually decrease methadone doses is to make this phase as manageable as possible. This could easily be considered the toughest stage of the process.

5-10 Days

As you move further along the methadone withdrawal timeline, spanning from the 5th to the 10th day, you're getting through a crucial phase. This period often marks a significant turn in your journey away from methadone use.

Here’s what this phase generally entails:

  • Diminishing Physical Symptoms: By now, the most intense physical methadone withdrawal symptoms often begin to wane. Though you might still experience some discomfort, it’s usually less severe than in the initial days.

  • Emotional and Psychological Shifts: While physical symptoms might decrease, it's common for emotional and psychological challenges to continue. You might still encounter moments of anxiety or mood fluctuations, but these too shall start to lessen.

  • Adaptation to Reduced Methadone Use: Your body and mind are increasingly adjusting to lower levels of methadone. This is a period of significant adaptation, where your system continues to recalibrate to function without the drug.

Remember, every step forward in this timeline is a testament to your resilience and commitment to overcoming dependency.

Start Recovery Here.
Call (323) 970-9379

Can NUMA Help with Opioid Addiction and Detoxing?

NUMA Recovery Centers is here to assist individuals struggling with substance use disorder, particularly those undergoing the challenges of opioid addiction and methadone dependence.

Our approach is comprehensive, empathetic, and informed by the latest guidelines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). We like to consider the person as a whole, not just their disease.

Please allow our team to help you be free from methadone. All you need to do is say yes, and contact us now!

adam zagha of numa detox and rehab in los angeles
Adam Zagha
Adam Zagha is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles with over a decade of experience in addiction treatment and recovery. He holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and is certified in EMDR therapy, CBT, DBT, and ACT. Prior to Numa Recovery Centers, Adam was CFO and the Director of Clinical Outreach at Transcend Recovery Community. Adam is committed to providing top-quality care to individuals seeking treatment for addiction and mental health issues. He also provides trainings and workshops on addiction, mental health, and mindfulness.
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Numa Recovery Centers is a leading drug and alcohol detox and rehab company based in Los Angeles, providing evidence-based treatment for substance abuse and addiction. With a team of experienced professionals, Numa offers a comprehensive range of personalized services to help clients overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery.
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