Methadone Detox & Withdrawal

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Methadone Detox & Withdrawal Services

Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is used in maintenance therapy for patients who have opioid use disorders (OUDs) and as a pain medication. Methadone causes feelings of euphoria, however its effects are milder and can block the highs induced by other opioids. Methadone is highly addictive in large doses and tolerance can develop quickly. It might seem impossible to stop using methadone, but our detox centers are equipped to assist you with a long term strategy to live a methadone-free life.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Even though methadone is used as a replacement medication for patients who are coming off other drugs such as heroin, it can lead to addiction.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms are generally described as ‘flu like’ and can vary in intensity, between mild, moderate and severe. Some of the most commonly experienced withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, restlessness and agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Yawning
  • Depression
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Trembling, goosebumps and chills
  • Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Cravings
  • Concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure

Methadone withdrawal symptoms can take two to four days to begin and may last for 10 days. Detoxing from methadone is a long term process, and some patients may experience withdrawal symptoms for up to six months.

Timeline of Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone is a long-acting opiate and it can take the body 15 to 60 hours to process it, some it may take a few days before withdrawal symptoms are felt. The first seven to 10 days are usually the most intense and symptoms may only peak around day seven after cessation. Acute withdrawal symptoms may last for up to 21 days.

Days one and two
Withdrawal symptoms usually don’t start until at least 30 hours after your last dose. Fever, chills, increased heart rate and muscle aches are common.

Days three to eight
By this stage, cravings are intense and you may experience body aches, anxiety, nausea, pain and insomnia. Cramps, vomiting and depression may begin at this stage.

Days nine to 15
After withdrawal symptoms have peaked many withdrawal symptoms will fade, however physical discomfort, diarrhea and mood swings persist. Depression can be severe.

After 15 days
After a three to six week detox, some clients experience Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) for months or even years. The symptoms may include depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor concentration and loss of pleasure.

How to Detox from Methadone Safely

A tapering approach under medical supervision is the safest way to withdraw from methadone use as quitting suddenly can induce intense withdrawal symptoms. A tapering approach also reduces your risk of relapse and thus of overdose.
Under medical supervision in a detox facility, you will be monitored on a constant basis to stabilize your fluid and nutrient levels. Your symptoms will be measured against an opioid withdrawal scale, and the necessary medication will be administered to keep you safe and comfortable.

Longer term methadone treatment is the most effective way to manage a methadone dependency as it can reduce the intensity of your symptoms, however for many patients this usually means more than a year in treatment.

Trusting Your Doctors

Your GP or private rehab doctor plays a critical role in your recovery, by helping with a tapering schedule to manage the intensity of your withdrawal. Your doctor will determine the lowest possible dose of methadone for you, that doesn’t induce withdrawal symptoms and then design a schedule to reduce this incrementally over a long period of time.

Trusting your doctor means you follow his or her advice, that you give accurate and honest information about your methadone use and any other substances you have been taking, and you commit to a long term program. Not doing this can interfere with your tapering schedule and reduce its chances of working.

Methadone Withdrawal Risks

Methadone is long-acting so it stays in your body for a long time and withdrawal starts slowly. Many patients realize that taking more methadone will relieve their symptoms, so relapse during withdrawal is a real risk. Overdose is possible, because it takes a long time to feel the effects of methadone.

Complications from withdrawal symptoms include electrolyte imbalance and dehydration due to nausea and vomiting. These complications also increase your risk of aspiration, or inhaling the contents of your stomach, which can lead to a lung infection. Patients who experience anxiety and depression during withdrawal may self harm.

In a Residential Setting

It is advisable to go through the initial stages of methadone detox in a residential setting, where you can be monitored and your comfort levels can be supported. A tapering schedule must be followed, and this needs to be managed medically. In a residential setting your symptoms will be measured against an opioid withdrawal scale a few times a day, to ensure that you are safe.

Overdose is a real risk in methadone withdrawal, because of its extended half life and the tapering schedule must be followed carefully. Because of its potential to depress the respiratory system, clients withdrawing from methadone need to be monitored. Maintenance dose methadone is usually given in divided doses, and this is easier to manage in a supervised, residential setting.

Why Choose United Recovery CA for Methadone Detox?

Our supportive team makes use of a comprehensive and holistic approach to detox and each patient is assessed on admission so that a care plan can be tailored to your needs. We offer our detox program in a safe and distraction-free environment that is conducive to recovery, and our medical team will ensure you are safe and comfortable throughout the process.

We understand that methadone detox and withdrawal is a long-term process and we have the structures in place to walk you through each stage. Once you have completed your detox program you can transition into a methadone rehab program on the same property, and make use of our extended care services to support long term sobriety.

About United Recovery Project

Why Choose United Recovery CA for Methadone Detox and Withdrawal?

Our medical detox and rehabilitation center has been designed for comfort and safety. We enable our patients to retreat into a luxurious and non-judgmental space where you receive 24-hour medical supervision and clinical interventions to help you forge your long term recovery path. Once your drug detox is complete you can enroll for in-patient or out-patient rehab in a familiar setting as you learn the tools and coping skills required to address the underlying triggers that resulted in your methadone dependency. Aftercare, support groups and sober living homes provide you with extended care programs that facilitate long term sobriety in an understanding community.

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Is a Detox Enough to Tackle Addiction?

Detox is a necessary part of giving methadone up but it is not enough to address a dependency or addiction. Detoxing can help you to break through your physical dependency, but more work needs to be done to understand your psychological dependence on methadone.

Methadone detox is protracted and it requires an integrated approach to treatment that includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, group therapy and extended aftercare to get to the root cause of your dependency. There are usually multiple factors that contribute to your decision to use methadone and it will take some time to identify and work through these contributing factors after you have dealt with the discomfort caused by your withdrawal symptoms.

It is essential to have psycho-emotional support during methadone detox, because of the length of time it takes to rid it from your system.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I need it for my health, can I really stop using Methadone?

If your health is a concern, speak to your GP as soon as possible about alternatives to Methadone. You can stop using it but you should be prepared for a long term treatment period. Patients who are on methadone maintenance treatments can expect a minimum treatment period of 12 months and even though it may seem like a long time, long term recovery and sobriety is possible with the right professional assistance.

Does my insurance cover Methadone detox?

Most health insurance providers will cover at least a portion of a Methadone detox and a rehab program with medication. We encourage you to contact your insurance provider to find out if they will cover your detox treatment fully, or if you will be responsible for a co-payment. The amount of cover you receive will depend on the terms and conditions of your health insurance policy.

What is Opioid Replacement Therapy?

Opioid Replacement Therapy is the process of using methadone to break your dependence on opioids. Because methadone is long-acting and an opioid agonist, it can be used successfully to help you withdraw from other opioids as part of a long term strategy, where your dose of methadone will be tapered off very slowly. This reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms and improves your chances of avoiding relapse. It takes a long time, but the evidence indicates that a minimum of 12 months is recommended if you want to detox from methadone.

Can I get a detox-only program?

Your detox is the start of your sober future, and all the stages that you will go through are important for long term recovery. Once your detox is over, you will enroll in a residential or outpatient program so you can address the reasons for your dependency and learn strategies to help you live a sober life. Aftercare programs will help to reinforce the skills you have learnt in rehab, to help you avoid relapse.

What are the meds you use during detox?

Patients are evaluated throughout the day to assess the severity of their symptoms. Symptomatic medication such as Clonidine may be prescribed for symptoms like sweating, diarrhea, anxiety and insomnia. Buprenorphine may be used to reduce cravings. Fluids and vitamin and nutritional supplements need to be monitored and administered throughout the day.

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You can get better with the right support. Don’t hesitate to contact us now so that we can discuss the next steps.