Skip to content

Methadone Detox, Overdose, Addiction, Withdrawal Simptoms, Timeline & Treatment

What is Methadone Detox?

Methadone Detox and addiction treatment programs can help ensure a safe withdrawal process. Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is traditionally prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. However, it is also commonly used to help in treating certain opiate addictions, such as heroin.

Suddenly stopping the use of methadone can lead to a withdrawal syndrome that, while rarely life-threatening, can be extremely unpleasant, which may increase one’s risk of relapse. The safest way to get off methadone is to work with a healthcare provider on a tapering schedule that gradually lowers the dose of the drug. A taper helps to decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms and avoid a relapse.

For people who have been abusing the drug, completing withdrawal in a medical detox program and then engaging in formal substance abuse rehabilitation offers the best chance at success.

Methadone Detox
Methadone Detox and addiction treatment programs can help ensure a safe withdrawal process.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication that helps many people struggling with addiction to opioids such as heroin. It is used as part of a medication-assisted treatment program that includes counseling and participation in social support programs.

When taken as directed, methadone can reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, decrease opioid cravings, and induce a significant amount of cross-tolerance to other opioids—which may block some or all of the euphoric effects of drugs such as heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. In some instances, certain formulations of methadone may be prescribed for pain control.

Though it has several therapeutic uses, methadone use can lead to addiction. Per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2017, about 261,000 people aged 12 and older reported using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once in their life.

Methadone was responsible for 3,194 overdose deaths in 2017, or about 1 per 100,000 people. It is one of the top 10 most addictive drugs. In 2014, it accounted for 1% of all opioids prescribed for pain but was responsible for 23% of all prescription opioid deaths.

Methadone Overdose 

Methadone is one of the safest and most effective medications around when used correctly and as prescribed.  However, the dose makes the poison, and when it comes to methadone, in particular, you have a somewhat clear picture of what a lethal amount looks like.

Methadone should not mix the two substances under any circumstances. The same can be said for methadone and benzodiazepine concoctions. As bizarre as it may come across, many experts also suggest that methadone patients or users avoid drinking grapefruit juice while on the drug.

Signs of a Methadone Overdose

Signs are comparable to overdose symptoms and may include:

  • Low blood pressure and a weak pulse
  • Constricted or pinpoint pupils
  • Body spasms at irregular intervals
  • Dizziness or sloppy behavior
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • Absence of breathing or consciousness

You may insinuate that they feel no pain whatsoever. This may be the residual effects of the methadone masking their actual discomfort. Overdose signs may present themselves up to 10 hours after methadone use.

Methadone Overdose Symptoms

Methadone should never disregard overdose symptoms.  Different areas of the body may exhibit other symptoms:

  • Gastrointestinal System: The stomach and surrounding muscle structures are susceptible to several complications. These may include spasms, vomiting, constipation, and more.
  • Vascular and Respiratory System: One’s lungs are a primary attack point for methadone overdose.  Labored breathing and a tight chest can occur.
  • Central Nervous System: Becoming unnaturally confused or disoriented is not out of the question. On top of this, one may experience drowsiness or fatigue.
Methadone Detox
Overdose signs may present themselves up to 10 hours after methadone use.

Methadone Overdose Treatment

Depending on the severity, physicians may choose to use activated charcoal to neutralize the drug in the stomach or perform gastric lavage to remove stomach contents entirely.  Victims will then be put on a regimen of IV fluids and monitored until overdose symptoms dissipate. 

Then, immediate procedures must take place to remove it.  Fortunately, several methods exist to do just that.  Getting a methadone overdose victim to the nearest emergency room is priority number one.  Overdosing on methadone means that a large amount of the medication is in the system.

Methadone Detox

A person can implement their Methadone Detox at several facilities. These include a medical facility such as a hospital, a dedicated detox center, or even a treatment facility that also provides detox services, such as We Level Up Treatment Center in Washington. However, attempting to self-detox at home can be incredibly dangerous and even life-threatening. It can also increase the likelihood of a relapse.

The struggle when it comes to getting off methadone is due to a couple of reasons. First, people might be afraid of the symptoms that will come along with withdrawal. Second, they might have even attempted to detox at home, and the side effects were so harmful they decided to continue using. But, if you tried to get off of methadone and have struggled, the best and safest way to withdraw from methadone is by detoxing under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals.

Methadone Detox Withdrawal 

It is a medication that is prescribed to manage opioid addiction. However, methadone itself can be addictive, and people who take methadone over some time can become physically dependent on it. For that reason, when the person stops using the drug, severe withdrawal symptoms may appear, the most common are:

  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Muscle Aches and Pains
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach Issues

A person might need to go through medically assisted methadone withdrawal for two reasons: either they have been misusing methadone or have been maintained on the drug and ready to end their maintenance. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) should last at least a year, and after this point, a person can decide with their doctor whether to stay on the drug or be weaned off it. 

Withdrawal from methadone usually starts later than other types of opioid withdrawal because the drug’s effects are so long-lasting.  However, you will likely begin to see withdrawal effects start around. Thirty hours after your last use of the drug.  After this, symptoms may last between two and three weeks.

Withdrawal Perilous Symptoms

  • Depression: It is always challenging to know how severe the symptoms will become beforehand because every individual is different.
  • Anxiety: The issues associated with withdrawal-induced stress are similar. 
  • Dehydration: Methadone detox withdrawal can potentially make you sweat profusely, vomit, and experience diarrhea. Your body will lose considerable liquid, putting you at risk for dehydration if you are not replenishing these fluids.
  • Relapse: Naturally, relapse is always the most dangerous potential side effect of withdrawal.

Methadone Detox Withdrawal Timeline

According to the typical methadone detox withdrawal timeline, when you are in the early withdrawal stage, symptoms can include agitation or anxiety, muscle aches, tearing eyes, runny nose, inability to sleep, and excessive yawning.  As withdrawal progresses, you may have symptoms such as stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, goosebumps, and dilated pupils.  Methadone is a long-acting opioid, and withdrawal symptoms generally appear around 30 hours after the last dose.  Acute methadone detox withdrawal can last for about 2–3 weeks, with symptoms improving gradually around the 10th day of departure.

You may experience a protracted withdrawal period or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, in which withdrawal symptoms may persist for weeks or months.  Physical symptoms of post-acute withdrawal can include fatigue. Cognitive symptoms, such as having difficulty focusing on a task, may also occur. Protracted withdrawal can consist of emotional symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and constant irritability.

Methadone Detox
According to the typical methadone detox withdrawal timeline, when you are in the early withdrawal stage, symptoms can include agitation or anxiety, muscle aches, tearing eyes, runny nose, inability to sleep, and excessive yawning.

Benefits Of Undergoing A Medical Methadone Detox

One of the most significant benefits of undergoing a medical detox is the around-the-clock medical care and supervision. Because you have trained medical professionals constantly checking on you, they can make the entire withdrawal and detox process as painless and comfortable as possible. They will also ensure you are slowly weaned off the methadone instead of just quitting cold turkey.

Methadone Detox At home

Methadone Detox treatment can be an effective solution for those seeking relief from their addiction problems, but Methadone is highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms are notoriously severe.

Some people who have been on Methadone will decide to do Methadone detox at home due to personal reasons such as having children or family responsibilities. While it is possible to withdraw from Methadone without professional help safely, it is often recommended that Methadone users seek medical assistance when detoxing.

An inpatient Methadone Detox program will give moderate to severe methadone addicts their best chance of successful recovery.

We Level Up Washington Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatments

The We Level Up Washington primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment programs for underlying conditions like Methadone addiction that frequently fuels harmful behaviors. Taking that first step to get the professional support you need can be life-transforming.

We know how mental health disorders and secondary co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses directly affect one another. The We Level Up Washington treatment center provides recovery programs through science-based mental health treatments that can help you feel better. Call us now for a free mental health evaluation! 

Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at affiliated facilities at other We Level Up Treatment Centers locations beyond the Washington treatment facility.


[1]  We Level Up Treatment Center – ‘Methadone Detox’

[2] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). ‘Methadone

[3] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data Brief 329. Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017.

[5] Faul, M., Bohm, M., and Alexander, C. (2017). Methadone Prescribing and Overdose and the Association with Medicaid Preferred Drug List Policies—United States, 2007-2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 66(12), 320-323.