How Long Does Methadone Withdrawal Treatment Take?

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Methadone’s use as an opiate addiction drug as well as a pain-reliever has opened the door for abuse practices to occur on a regular basis. While effective at curbing the withdrawal and drug cravings experienced in recovery, methadone is nonetheless an opiate drug and comes with a risk for abuse and addiction. Likewise, abusing methadone on a regular basis leaves users open to the same consequences that come with abusing other opiates like heroin and Demerol.

Methadone withdrawal treatment works in much the same way as other forms of opiate withdrawal treatment; however, methadone’s chemical makeup can pose more of a challenge in terms of how long the withdrawal stage takes. As methadone affects different people in different ways, methadone withdrawal treatment durations can vary from person to person, though the process does tend to progress along the same lines as far as withdrawal effects go.

Factors Affecting the Methadone Withdrawal Process

According to the U. S. Department of Justice, methadone acts as a long-acting opiate drug, with one dose able to relieve uncomfortable withdrawal and cravings effects for up to 36 hours at a time. These long-acting effects come into play during the methadone withdrawal treatment process essentially making the withdrawal stage longer as compared to other types of opiate drugs.

The brain and body also develop a tolerance to methadone in the same way tolerance develops with other types of drugs. Tolerance levels have an influence on how long the methadone withdrawal treatment process will take as tolerance indicates the degree of dependence that’s developed.

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Methadone Withdrawal Treatment

Methadone Withdrawal Treatment

Nausea and stomach cramps are often experienced during the first week of methadone withdrawal.

Methadone’s long-acting effects make it one of the hardest drugs to stop using so some form of methadone withdrawal treatment will be necessary to make it through the withdrawal stage, according to Columbia University.

The methadone withdrawal treatment process typically entails tapering a person off the drug by slowly reducing dosage amounts until he or she no longer experiences uncomfortable withdrawal effects. This process can take weeks or even months depending on brain and body tolerance levels at the start of treatment.

The Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

The methadone withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person, though symptoms still tend to surface in a certain order along the way. Withdrawal effects can start anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after a person stops using the drug.

The first week comes with the most severe of symptoms, including:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Body aches

Once the physical symptoms run their course, a person starts to experience emotional and psychological-based symptoms, such as depression, anxiety and paranoia. This stage of withdrawal usually runs the longest lasting anywhere from two to six months.

What is the Methadone Detox Protocol?


The importance of getting some form of methadone withdrawal treatment cannot be overstated as the risk of relapse runs high when needed supports are lacking. Relapsing after a withdrawal period can be especially dangerous as there’s a considerable potential for overdose once brain tolerance levels drop.

If you or someone you know are considering methadone withdrawal treatment and need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to speak with one of our addictions specialists.

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