How Long Does Methadone Withdrawal Last?
Methadone is a type of manmade (synthetic) opioid drug that was initially developed to treat chronic and debilitating pain in the 1940s. Since then, Methadone has become a standard medication for the treatment of opioid addiction or opioid use disorder (OUD). Most commonly, people associate Methadone with heroin addiction, as Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) has been performed from Methadone maintenance clinics since the 1970s. However, illegal Methadone that is bought and sold on the streets has become another concerning facet to the overall opioid epidemic occurring in the United States and globally. Today, the opioid crisis is continuing to ruin lives and families daily, and Methadone addiction is considered part of the epidemic.
Long vs. Short-Acting Opioids: What is Methadone?
Methadone addiction affects addicts roughly the same way that other opiate addictions do, such as heroin, Fentanyl, and prescription pain killers. Like an addiction to heroin, Methadone addiction after several months of use (2-4 months), causes the addict to become totally physically dependent on the drug. Methadone addicts must continue to consume Methadone or other opiates to prevent the onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, Methadone is different from other opiates in that it is considered a long-acting opioid.
Long-acting opioids include Methadone, Fentanyl, morphine, and some varieties of oxycontin. Short-acting opioids include heroin and several prescription pain killers such as Vicodin, Codeine, and Oxycodone. Whether an opioid is long or short-acting will significantly affect how severe and for how long opioid withdrawal symptoms occur.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), advances science and health, long-acting opioids such as Methadone will cause withdrawal symptoms to persist for up to several weeks. NCBI documents some of the most common withdrawal symptoms; however, other symptoms can also occur.
For short-acting opioids (e.g., heroin), the onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms is 8-24 hours after the last use with a duration of 4-10 days. When it comes to long-acting opioids (e.g., Methadone), the onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms is 12-48 hours after the last use and the duration can last up to 10-20 days.
Methadone withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hot and cold flushes
- Muscle cramps
- Watery discharge from eyes and nose
Methadone withdrawal is rumored to cause extreme bone and muscle pain. The rumors are mostly concise because Methadone is an opioid drug that, after a prolonged addiction, will reduce the body’s ability to produce its natural pain blockers called endorphins. Endorphins are natural chemicals that are released when a person experiences pain from an injury, burn, or other condition. Simply put, Methadone tells the brain that it does not need to release endorphins or produce them because it is blocking pain.
Methadone is Used to Treat Heroin Addiction & Chronic Pain
Methadone is a popular medication for the treatment of chronic pain because it has a very long half-life. A person who takes Methadone to manage pain is often satisfied with relatively low doses of Methadone for relief. Methadone is most commonly prescribed for pain in as small does as 2 mg. up to 10 mg. For Methadone addicts, or former heroin addicts, who abuse Methadone, their dosage is much higher. According to the NCBI, a typical dose of heroin on the street is equivalent to approximately 20 mg of pharmaceutical methadone.
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to detox from Methadone without medical supervision. A medically supervised detox from Methadone typically prescribes smaller and smaller doses of Methadone to the person who is addicted over several weeks or months. Without a taper down strategy, the Methadone addict will likely relapse and take Methadone or seek out other opiate drugs to give them relief. Methadone withdrawal symptoms are extreme and can be life-threatening, as they do cause heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and in some cases, stroke.
The withdrawal symptoms listed by the NCBI are accurate but many methadone addicts will also report the following symptoms when they experience Methadone withdrawal:
- Uncontrollable sneezing
- Violent leg and arm movements (known as kicking)
- Hallucinations and confusion
- Inability to function normally
Medical Treatment for Methadone Dependence
The program that Evoke Florida offers for Methadone detoxification and treatment helps addicts get and remain clean from Methadone. Our advanced medically supervised Methadone detoxification unit works directly with our treatment center. We admit clients who are addicted to Methadone to the detox unit first. They are encouraged to remain for one of our specialized opioid and Methadone addiction treatment programs. Our Methadone treatment programs are tailored to meet the needs of the individual. We rely on evidence-based forms of therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), one on one counseling, group counseling, holistic therapy methods and other well-renowned forms of treatment that are proven to help opioid addicts attain lifelong recovery.