Methadone withdrawal occurs following a methadone addiction. Methadone withdrawal symptoms affect a person’s ability to function properly. Once a person develops a physical dependence on methadone, he or she may experience the following phases during the methadone withdrawal period:
First Stage of Methadone Withdrawal – Early Symptoms
The initial symptoms of methadone withdrawal begin about eight to 30 hours after a person’s last methadone dose. These symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Twitching involuntarily
The early symptoms phase of methadone withdrawal generally lasts about two to three days. Physical symptoms often disappear on their own. However, psychological symptoms may increase or change over time.
Second Stage of Methadone Withdrawal – Peak Symptoms
Methadone withdrawal symptoms reach their peak within about three to four days after a person’s last methadone dose. These symptoms may make a person feel drowsy and tired, and they may include:
- Stomach pain
- Aches and/or cramping
- Increased body temperature, heart rate, and/or breathing rate
During the peak phase, methadone withdrawal symptoms tend to be psychological. A person may experience anxiety, depression, restlessness, and other symptoms as he or she detoxes from methadone. At the same time, a person’s body craves methadone, and the feelings that go along with a methadone craving may be intense.
The peak phase of methadone withdrawal usually subsides within a few days. After the brain begins to adjust to a lack of methadone, it will gradually release neurotransmitters. Then, the body will reach a normal level of neurotransmitters once again.
Ultimately, the peak methadone withdrawal phase is critical. People who try to complete the phase on their own often suffer a relapse. As such, it typically helps to work with a medical professional who understands the ins and outs of methadone treatment. In some instances, a medical professional may recommend over-the-counter medications or other treatment options to help a person get through the peak withdrawal phase. Plus, a medical professional can provide positive reinforcement to further minimize an individual’s risk of a methadone relapse.
Third Stage of Methadone Withdrawal – Decrease in Symptoms
The worst methadone withdrawal symptoms may last up to 10 days. During this period, an individual may feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Yet methadone withdrawal symptoms will gradually subside.
Remember, methadone is a potent drug, and the symptoms associated with long-term methadone abuse may linger for several weeks. If a person chooses a safe, effective, and dependable methadone treatment program, this individual could keep his or her methadone cravings in check. Best of all, this individual may be better equipped than ever before to curb his or her methadone cravings for an extended period of time.
Fourth Stage of Methadone Withdrawal – Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
PAWS refers to the continuation of withdrawal symptoms following a drug treatment. It may affect individuals who abuse methadone or other drugs.
PAWS often results in psychological methadone withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and cravings. The depression linked to PAWS may cause a person to experience suicidal thoughts. Conversely, the anxiety associated with PAWS may lead to ongoing panic attacks.
The symptoms of PAWS may persist for several weeks or a few months after a methadone detox. Although methadone addicts tend to be less prone to PAWS than other drug addicts, it is important to prepare for PAWS.
To address PAWS, an individual must develop and maintain a strong support network. Family members, friends, and other loved ones who can help a person dealing with methadone cravings may enable this individual to avoid a relapse.
Medical support is also paramount to address PAWS. Working with a doctor to develop a long-term methadone treatment plan that accounts for PAWS enables an individual to determine how to limit the risk of restarting his or her addictive behaviors.
How Long Do Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
The amount of time that methadone withdrawal symptoms last varies based on the individual, how long he or she has used methadone, and other factors.
A person usually starts to feel methadone withdrawal symptoms within the first 24 hours after his or her last methadone dose. During the next seven to 10 days, an individual may experience the most painful of all methadone withdrawal symptoms. Within about three to six weeks of methadone withdrawal, symptoms may eventually disappear.
Of course, a person may feel the urge to take methadone any time after he or she completes a detox. If a person plans ahead for potential methadone withdrawal challenges, he or she can boost the likelihood of enjoying a full recovery from a methadone addiction.
Things to Help with Methadone Withdrawal
Detoxing from methadone is a long-term process that requires hard work and patience. Now, let’s take a look at some things to help with methadone withdrawal:
- Seek medical support. A doctor develops a personalized plan to help an individual beat his or her methadone addiction. This medical professional may try to help a person taper his or her methadone usage or replace the drug with buprenorphine, an outpatient tapering medication.
- Begin addiction treatment therapy. Rehabilitation programs offer therapy, medication, and social support to help a person manage the physical and psychological symptoms of methadone addiction.
- Eat healthy. Stay hydrated, consume fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods, and try to fill a diet with foods that contain lots of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.
- Learn about methadone and methadone addiction. Learn about methadone, how it works, and its impact on the brain and body. That way, an individual can better understand his or her methadone abuse and treat a methadone addiction accordingly.
A methadone detox program may help a person cleanse his or her body of methadone, too. This program can be completed at a treatment center that provides around-the-clock supervision and support, along with best-in-class equipment and staff.
The Bottom Line on Methadone Withdrawal
Methadone withdrawal symptoms vary in terms of duration and severity. Regardless of an individual’s symptoms, detoxing from methadone may seem virtually impossible at times.
Fortunately, ibogaine therapy for methadone addiction is now available. Ibogaine has been shown to help methadone addicts effectively detox from methadone and lower their risk of a relapse. Therefore, an ibogaine treatment may prove to be an ideal first step to help a person address his or her methadone addiction.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.