How Can I Get through Methadone Withdrawal?

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Methadone withdrawal is one of the hardest conditions to treat when it comes to drug detox.  The reason for this is because the drug is so sticky in terms of the half life and how long it stays in the system.  It is a very powerful medication that leaves the body very slowly, metabolizing about halfway every 36 hours.  This makes for a very slow and agonizing withdrawal if you stop taking the medication cold turkey.

The solution to this is obviously to taper yourself down as slowly as possible.  If you are taking a large dose every day then you are going to need to come down very slowly in order to avoid being sick. Going to drug rehab will not really help you much in this case as they will not be able to do anything for you other than let time pass so that the medication can slowly leave your body.  Therefore the responsibility is all up to the addict to get themselves tapered down to an acceptable amount.

Trójka 26.04.2008
Creative Commons License photo credit: dontcallmeikke

If you do want to go to a drug rehab, the best case scenario is to get yourself tapered down to about 10 milligrams per day or so before you go in so that they can properly detox you once you get there. If you are still taking, say, 100 milligrams per day when you go to rehab, they will not be able to treat your withdrawal at all for the first few days, and by then you will be in residential treatment and attending groups and lectures.  This just makes for bad timing because they always put you in detox first at a drug rehab, and then transfer you to the groups and the program once you are detoxed and feeling a bit better.  Well with methadone you might not even start to detox until the second or third day, and by then your funding for detox has run out and you will be forced to go to residential and attend groups.

So the bottom line is that if you want to go to drug rehab in order to deal with your methadone addiction, realize that most of the responsibility for detoxing from the drugs lies squarely on your shoulders before you even get to rehab.  If you wait and keep taking large amounts of methadone right up until you get to rehab, then they will not really be able to help you with your withdrawal because the drug is too powerful.

Finally, recognize that there can be some potential for danger or even death when going through withdrawal from Methadone at high doses.  If you have been taking an extremely large dose for a long period of time, then stopping cold turkey could actually be fatal in some rare cases.  So it is nothing to mess around with and the ideal scenario is to get into a medical detox of some sort.


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  • kherbear

    I’ve been off methadone for 5 days. I was down to 5mg a day. The ony probems I’m still having is the diarreha hard to sleep and my stomach feels as if Im on a roller coaster 24/7. How am I still in with drawls or am I at the point of it being mental? Any help please

  • Patrick

    Nope it is still physical at this point. Tough it out, you are probably through the worst of it by now.

    Most opiate withdrawal seems to peak around day 3 but methadone is usually around day 3 to 5. So you should be feeling better real soon here….

  • Renee Anthony

    I have been on Methadone since 2006, I had back surgery in 1998 and even though they took the pressure off the nerve, it was damaged. I have perm Nerve Damage in my right leg which is numb from my outer thigh down the calf and foot to the two last toes on my foot. In addition to that scar tissue has formed around the damaged nerve. I have been taking 6o0mg a day and Hydro 10/325 for breakthrough pain. My regular doctor moved in Feb. None of the other doctors in the same clinic will take me on as a patient. I was given enough methadone to las for 60 days, and was referd to a pain managment doctor. I do not have insurance and my medicare will not kick in until June. I ran out of my methadone about 5 days ago, I had tappered down to 40mg then 20mg hoping I would be able to get in to another doctor, NO SUCH LUCK!!! I have high blood pressure on three meds for that, and am on Seroquil 400mg xl, and Buseperion. My blood pressure is sky high, I called the clinic and was told to go to the ER. IfI do go do they usually prescribe methadone even a few till I can get into a regular doctor. I do not want to waste my time and money nor their time. What can I do.

  • Patrick

    That is a lot of medical advice that you need there, Renee.

    I am probably not the right person to be giving it. But, I do know that many people in opiate withdrawal are treated with Catapres, a blood pressure medication. But this happens under doctor supervision. Plus, you would likely still have withdrawal symptoms, even with the catapres. Have you talked with your doctors about Suboxone? That might be good for your pain management problem…..

    My best advice is for you to try to get into detox…..

  • sara

    My boyfriend has been on methadone for 1 year and half now, at a 75 mg/day. Since today is a holiday, he was supposed to pick up his carries yesterday. He forgot all about it and its now without his drink for the day until Saturday. He is really worried about the w/d. He hasnt gone a day without missing his drink since he first started taking methadone. Now my question is how long is it before he will start feeling the w/d. Ive read 24 hours and 48 hours but I am very unsure.

  • Patrick

    @ Sara – the long half life of Methadone means that it might be a day or two or even 3 before the withdrawal fully kicks in.

    The withdrawal may start around, say, 48 hours but then peak around 72 hours. Just hard to say.

    Remind him to stay hydrated. Very important. Methadone withdrawal can be dangerous in extreme cases….

  • Jessica

    Backstory: on methadone almost 4yrs, does a 6 month taper to 15 milligrams and quits going due to family emergency. its been 2 weeks since last dose and this person has felt great, better than they have in a long time. Now all of a sudden two weeks later they can’t sleep, but feel 100% fine otherwise. Do you think this could be methadone related or something else (like being on the other side if the country for the first time in 6 yrs) I don’t think it’s mental because methadone never occurred to them as the cause at this point. From everything I know if it is from methadone it should have started at least a week ago if it was the cause (i know sleep disturbances can last a while but when they never had it in the first place?). What do you think? No symptoms for 2 weeks at all, no other symptoms at all now either

  • kelly

    i dont get my methadone pills till wensday, i took my last two today. im only on 10mg a day, wat do i do to go threw these next few days without my methadone, im really scared.. someone please help!!!

  • Anonymous

    Toughen up 10mg ain’t Shiu you won’t feel any withdraw

  • beth

    i have been on methadone for 1 1/2 years and so has my husband we have spent 15.000$ at the program it was to much money for us right now we just went through a hard time. so they took him from 85 mg’s down 5 mgs a day untill tomorrow he had 10 mgs today tomorrow is his last day i was at 97mg and went down 5 mg a day i am now at 22mg today but my husband is at 10 mg and is sick as a dog he always feels like he is going to get sick belly hurts sweating hot cold running to bathroom as for my my body hurts i just broke my back last year and have many outher prob’s i feel like methadone programs are a scam i have gave them 15.000 and they will not even wright him meds to stop getting sick we never came off methadone only pills i dont know what we are in for and i dont know what to do that can help us get throu this ….. thank u any thing will help.

  • Patrick

    @ Beth – if I were you I would try to get him into a detox where they can treat the Methadone withdrawal with Subutex/Suboxone.

    Before he can even detox though he will need to taper down his Methadone dose. Most rehabs prefer you come in at 30/day or less. Any more than that and it just takes too long before withdrawal kicks in.

    Good luck to you both, try to get him to treatment…..

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been on 100mgs of Methadone a day for 2 years. Due to a divorce I no longer have insurance, or my family doctor who was giving me the meds for pain,
    My question is: before i quit, how long should I be on 30 mgs a day?
    My Doctor did give me clonidine to help with the symptoms. I have left over Vicoprophen. Can I use it to help withdrawals until i can get most of the Methadone out of my system, then withdrawal from it. I do know the Vicoprophen probably won’t touch Methadone withdrawal, BUT maybe it’ll help me from going to the ER. I have no other way to get help. They always tell me they don’t have a bed when i call treatment centers and they find out i have no insurance and my dose is so high. Any advice would really help. Thank you!

  • valerie

    Hi ive not had any methadone for going on eight days now..i have been doing it cold turkey im telling everyone this because today i feel alot better ..besides insomnia but i can deal with that lol. I hit my brraking point at day five i lost touch with reality felt paronia was sick with sweats but im still here the most dangerous thing i expierenced so far is almost loosing my job..i lost my temper with a co worker iin a snap its like something took over my soul..methadone is a demon. And should not b offerd as a safer rouut than ur op of choice i do have a question why did diareah not start till my seventh day of detox

  • Tom

    All I can offer is that I stopped 100mg cold turkey which I know was a bad idea, but here I am on day 8! Because I know it’s common for people to want to know what to expect, as do/did I with no such luck. However, here’s my story and I list the boring details so people can compare to their own experience!

    First off, I was 16 when I started 10mg hudrocodone for what’s now called daily persistent migraines, back then, a bad sinus headache! Without too many boring details, it got worse through the years until 2 and a half years ago when I was show in the leg. After peaking at 20 10 mg percocets and 5 10 mg hudrocodone, I sought help. Shoulda just dealt with it then, but here we are, day 8.

    First 24 hrs. – just anxiety
    24 – 120 hrs( day 5)- knee muscle aches, most have full on restless leg syndrome. Insomnia, tired, lack of motivation and anxiety! I reccomend listening to k-love a Christian rock station that I wouldn’t be here without!!!

    Day 6-7 started feeling better, even got out and mowed the lawn, can see the light!! Almost through this!
    Day 8 – everything came back w avengance plus I now can add the stomach issues most talk about! However, I will get through this for my daughter who is due in February! I have broken the chains of my liquid prison!!! And I will not allow the chain to be repaired no matter what! Because I ( sorry for the cliche) have God on my side!

    Now, anyone help with what I can expect from here on?

  • roybee

    today is day 3 abit anxious but coping wit it..i wuz on 90 since july and am now faced wit sum obstacles that r givn me no option but to cold turkey this evil situation i put myself in watever im not gon cry,bitch,and moan..methadonia wat a fuckn sick sad gon get on subs on the i am just checkin in im not feeln that bad i must stay positive and beleive in my higher power..respond if u would..

  • roybee

    went to er lastnight ,strongmove they gaveme promethazine n day 4 n i feel ayite ,just hope the worst is over..problem sleeping restless leg syndrome is a bitch,im just happy on the road without liquidhandcuffs…i sure hope that this helps da next person godbless…

  • Jonny

    I started on 100mgs liquid methadone now at 7mgs almost 2yrs later I haven’t takin my dose today I don’t feel that but I’ve heard it kicks in 2-3 days later I read someone say tuff it out 10mgs ain’t shit in a earlier post, I really don’t know maybe 7 ain’t shit, I’ve been threw 3g a day heroin withdrawal cold turkey and let me tell it was no 3-8 days that shit lasted 1.5 months that I why I relapsed, I can go threw some shit cause of what I’ve been threw already I just heard methadone is 10x worse, should I say fuck the clinic tomorrow? I still have a dose left just in case.

  • Megn

    its been one week since i went cold turkey off of 100 mgs methadone. Ive been sleeping non stop and smoking weed. I thought that it couldn’t have gotten much worse than how i wAS feeling at the time (not the best but not hell) now Im having the tuns, restless leg, etc, anxiety…..any sugestions??? please

  • Megn

    the runs** can barely type jesus help me

  • Christina

    Today is a holiday so we got take homes for the next two days and of course what do I do but take my extra dose early. I am sooo mad at myself. I haven’t abused nothing in sooo long…feel like I fucked up and now I am soooo worried that I will be sick tomorrow without my dose to take. Now I guess that I must deal with the consequences. thanks for listening

  • Marko3426

    Hi ..Im going through some tough times right now iv been on the methadone maintenance program for about 6 1/2 years .. currently im on 110 mg .. .. the last two years iv been one foot in and one foot out of the program.. meaning iv been using for periods of times (only H) .. Iv dropped many dirties ..and I have to say the clinic has been patient with me .. very patient.. , about two weeks ago my counselor called me into her ofice and told me that I was going to be put onto probation .. and if I dropped any more dirties I could be in for an administrative detox , which is a taper over a fast period of time .. I heard her loud and clear time to stop srewing around .. but I havent I mean I did for a couple weeks but bordom and the obbsesion to use got the best of me and iv used again .. now Im prolly going to face a detox.. im not asking to be bashed here or a bunch of assholes telling me its my fault .. I know that .. what im asking is has anyone ever gone through a admistrative detox for using and if so were they allowed to to come back after a while?? any any other constructive advice and or opinions.. thanks

  • John

    Im trying to detox off of methadone . I was on 8omg. im at 75mg. now. Its been 6 days ive been down 5mgs. I feel like crap i have high blood pressure. bp not high right now. I WAS FEELING OK MOST OF TODAY. But now i feel nausea lot of pressure in my stomach. I dont know if its withdrawls. I wake up in the morn. i seem ok. someone please get back with me now if you would thank you.

  • janelle

    I’ve never been on methadone until a year ago. I’ve been on 85 now for months my insurance stopped December first hasn’t been turned on yet. So now I have a large balance it’s a hundred a week I have no job. So Monday they started taking me Down ten mg a day I’ll be out this coming Tuesday. Does anyone have any suggestions or know how I will feel

  • cedz

    hi iv been on methodone for about a year now i allways feel tired, run down, ill just f$£ked if i say this im worried they might put me up a dose i have not used dark since iv been on the script and they going to start reduceing my methodone.
    i no i sound like a bad addict but will they give me anything to help with my pains well wat i am feeling now .
    thanks and every one well done and good luck .

  • michele

    My brother was on methadone for 20 years. He stopped cold turkey. Not by choice. What a nightmare. He’s been in the psych ward 4 times. Medical hospital 4 times and now in rehab. He’s been messing his pants, paranoid, cold, losing weight, the list is endless. Help! I’ve been his sole caregiver and I’m exhausted. What can I expect in the future? I haven’t read about anyone being on this long, and don’t know what to expect?

  • carlucci

    michele if yir bro dog has a family doc or pyschaitrist get them to work together and try and have them prescribe him FENTENLY PATCH iwas on 140mg of zombie juice for 18 years and i cold turked it stupid so i got my doc to to prescribe me 50mg fentenyl patch and it saved my life my word its relased threw out the body for 72 hours and not even close to the withdrawal s i felt from methadone F METHADONE F IT BYE FAR THE WORST DRUG THERE IS GOODLUCK I WISH U ALL THE BEST JUST F-ING DO IT BE TUFF PCE

  • angel

    Here is a question I have not seen asked. From people who are suffering from pain and come off of methadone , what is your pain levels like after withdraw? How many of you continue to stay off pain meds. I am forty one have severe back and neck pain and am constantly told that my brain is being tricked by meds into believing my pain is worse then what it is…….I am in a situation with new healthcare that no one covers. I just went through three days of hell . I take only ten to twenty milligrams a day depending on pain.

  • John K

    I was on suboxone for 4 years. Tried to taper and quit and within a week I was on heroin. After 10 days of the rat race of heroin, I went to the methadone clinic. Started at 25 mg and over 5 months was increased to 100mg. I then decided to do a medically supervised wd. My clinic lowers dose 10mg every 2 weeks to 50 mg. At 50 mg they lower dose 5mg every 2 weeks. I have gone from 100mg to 45mg using this method and I have had absolutely no withdrawals or cravings. I pray this will continue. I drop all the way to 1mg as my last decrease. I just couldn’t pay $15 daily for this stuff anymore. Advice…do increase water intake and try to eat healthier. I will be honest, if my withdrawal is 3 to 7 days, then I will be fine. But asking someone to wd for 2 or 3 months is not possible. I will back using Norco or percs if the wd last an unreasonable amount of time. One last comment. I feel that the state is responsible for a lot of people staying on methadone for 15 years or more. Medicaid pays for their dose and even pays for their gas to get to the clinic. That pisses people like me off. I work my butt off coming up w $450 a month while others who have refuse to work, get theirs for free. If the state is going to pay, then 1 year off stabilization and then detox should be the max the state will pay for.

  • Shamieka Mabrey

    Try something else I am kicking off of 3mg of methadone. I tappered frm 60mg in like 5months but I still feel horrible my last dose was june13 I started feeling it on day3bad. I wish u the best of luck in your recovery.. Hot bath’s help for the stomach pain in lots of water slowly because it seems to kick in when it wants too

  • Stacy

    I also quit taking methadone June 13. I was on 19 mgs. When I stopped. Nice to see I’m not alone. Most post on here and everywhere else are older post.

  • John

    WAS ON 8O MG of Meth for 20 years and detoxed in 3 months now it’s been 10 years and I still can’t sleep through the night, I wake up feeling like I’m on uppers, or having a panic attack. Tried many doctors but they can’t find the reason the say it could be PAWS but 10 years later I don’t understand unless I messed something up in my head detoxing so fast. Please help.

  • Regina Harbin

    I have chronic pain neck i had surgery in 2000. I have been on methadone for 5yrs at 100mg a day they took me down 10mg a week its been hell im sick and hurting Im at 10mg now. and in pain dont no what to do GOOD LUCK TO ALL

  • Rachel

    I was taking methadone for a while at least 20 mg a day liquid I quit cold turkey . I am on 3 weeks now so 21 days . I still can’t sleep and feel worn out and tired sometimes and weak BUT after week 2 I felt so much better than I did. I still do feel pretty good for the most part! It’s hard but worth it!! Trust me ;)) once y hit ur peak it’s like a week of shit but it definately makes u strong ! I feel pretty damn empowered ;) I was n the hospital on day 5 on ivs and now I only take blood pressure meds at night to calm me down and then somethin for sleep my doc gave me that’s it :) I work full time on my feet ten hour days! Methadone is a joke and a trap! Coming off other drugs r easier but u all can do it ! If anyone needs advice or someone to talk to email me! I know I wished I had Someone to talk to when I was at my worst! Hang in there it’s only temporary

  • Stephanie

    I have been an IV heroin user for 3 years and decided to try methadone simply because I couldn’t afford to support my 200$ a day habit anymore. That was the biggest mistake I ever made. I’m sitting here in the dark at 430 in the morning wondering what the f@4$ just happened. It’s the morning of day 5 no methadone (going cold turkey 110mg a day and I still have had no wd. I used a small amount of heroin but that was a couple days ago and it’s a short lasting opiate so I figure I should at least be feeling some withdrawl symptoms by now. So am I just gonna be hit with a ton of bricks suddenly or is this normal? I have to be at work on Monday after missing the entire week and have no idea what to expect. It’s impossible to think that there will be no withdrawls …. Or can methadone really stay in ones system this long? Please if anyone has had a similar experience or can offer any advice please do. I am really confused and worried. Again I regret the choice I made to ever start taking methadone. The rat race of finding dope everyday seems like a cake walk compared to this because at least I knew what to expect then.

  • Gwen

    Hi. I had 7 back surgeries, after contracting a virulent strain of staph during a lumbar fusion. The 8th surgery, in April of 2006, was an anterior approach, and a trauma team had to do the first 3 hours of a 12 hour surgery. Anyway, I was diagnosed with FBS ( failed back surgeries) & given Opana, Fentanyl and 30 mg Oxycodone. After 5 yrs, I was addicted to ALL. my prescriptions. I paid a great addiction specialist to put me on Suboxone. However, after a month, my pain was out of control, and it was decided that METHADONE was a GREAT FIT FOR ME. I’ve been on Methadone for 5 years, and had enormous success…until my Dr. dropped my prescriptions from 160 mgs to 80. I’m back to craving more, and my PAIN IS EXCRUCIATING. What can I DO?????

  • Ashley

    Hi everyone. Just wanted to tell my little story and hopefully see if anyone out there has any good & helpful advice for me. Ok, I’ve been going to the methadone clinic for around about 2 years now. I have come down from 110mgs to 45mgs within a year. I am to the point where I can no longer afford $100 a week (like I ever could to begin with). I haven’t had any withdrawals so far. Is that good that I haven’t had any withdrawals/problems coming down that much thus far? I cant afford to continue to taper weekly. My clinic only allows 5mg decreases a week so I’m basically going to have to just stop anyway since I wont have the funds. What are yall’s thoughts on this? If I cannot afford to go anymore I’m going to have to stop cold turkey. Do you know if my regular doctor could prescribe me anything to help? I’m scared to death of the withdrawals or I would have already stopped going. I have a full time job that I have to keep and I’m worried the withdrawals will keep me from doing so. I feel like I’m trapped in a prison that I cannot get out of and I want out so badly. I’ve heard Vistaril has helped people and that’s what is given at certain rehabs but still that could be hear/say. I know everyone is different. Please if any of you have any positive opinions on anything I can do or ask my DR about send it my way! Had I know how badly this crap was I would have NEVER came close to it. Everyone is correct when they say “liquid
    Again thank you so much for taking the time to read this and God bless.

  • Joel

    Ashley, I just kicked 10mgs 2 weeks ago and I am still in very bad withdrawal. There is no way in hell I would be able to go to work right now lol.. it bothers me just typing this message. I’m not sure what you know about methadone after reading your message but the withdrawals of methadone are 10x worse than heroin. If I were to do this again I would have used heroin for 30 days after kicking the methadone and then kicked the heroin. I would welcome a heroin detox with open arms compared to a methadone detox. If you are planning to kick 45mgs of methadone cold turkey than get ready for a month of hell. Its nothing like a heroin detox where in 10 days you are pretty much normal again… with Methadone, at 10 days you have only gotten started.
    Now onto a more promising side of things – Mega Doses of Anti-Diarrhea pills helps a lot with withdrawal (I know it sounds crazy but Google – “Anti-Diarrhea Pills for Opiate Withdrawal” it works wonders – more people should know this. and u can buy it at any drug store.
    but Methadone detox is no joke. This is my 3rd time doing it (im a slow learner) I have had 3 years clean off everything 4 different times in my life) Im 32 years old and have been fighting heroin addiction since I was 19.
    You should taper right off the methadone before you kick it.
    best of luck.
    PS – the second time I kicked methadone I kicked 50mgs cold turkey and I was sick for over a month. restless legs and arms for 3 weeks. but it did keep me clean for over 3 years. Relapsed 14 months ago and now I’m kicking it again but this time only 5mgs cold turkey which I tapered down to. But I would rather kick a $100 a day heroin habit cold turkey than 5mgs of methadone from a taper of 80mgs. There is no easy way to get off methadone unless you do a year ling taper… but I have never done that and I bet you would still experience some withdrawal no matter what.
    I hope that made a little bit of sense… I haven’t slept in 2 weeks and I’m hallucinating from being sleep deprived.

  • Joel

    I know you posted this 4 years ago but you know nothing about methadone.

  • Ashley

    I absolutely agree with you. I’m going thru the EXACT same
    Thing you are right now. Been on methadone treatment for 2 1/2 years. Highest dose was 110mg..down to 35mg now. Haven’t had any withdrawal symptoms and I hope I don’t …starting tomorrow I’m going to decrease 1mg a day for 30 days and I will be finished. I just pray I don’t feel like death.