How to Detox from Methadone Safely

Last Updated: Mar 18th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

How to Detox from Methadone Safely

Methadone has helped many people stop or cut down their use of heroin and other opioids such as morphine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone. Methadone works by lessening severe cravings and other painful withdrawal symptoms, and also blocks feelings of euphoria.

When used as prescribed, methadone allows people to resume stable, productive lives, particularly when used in conjunction with counseling, education, and the support of friends and family.

Unfortunately, because methadone is a type of slow-acting opioid drug, it isn’t trouble-free and may become habit-forming. Addiction can occur when the drug is improperly used for pain control, or when it is used recreationally, and even people who have taken methadone as directed may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms upon stopping. Most people that use it want to do so as a short-term solution, and often find themselves looking for how to detox off methadone safely.

What Are the Effects of Methadone Withdrawal?

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Methadone?

Detoxing from methadone is different for everybody, and the timeline varies depending on how long you’ve used methadone, the size of the doses, your age, weight, metabolism, body fat content, and your overall health. Use of alcohol or other drugs will also affect the detox process.

The experts at 1st Step Behavioral Health can provide specifics about your timeline for getting off methadone safely.

The Most Common Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

When detoxing off methadone, the symptoms that appear during the first few days may feel a lot like a case of the flu, and may include:

  • Fever
  • Sweating and chills
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Goosebumps
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

The effects of methadone withdrawal usually peak between three and eight days, and this is generally the roughest time. You may experience:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches 
  • Severe cravings
  • Muscle tremors
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Physical & Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms of Methadone

The difficult physical symptoms of detoxing off methadone usually subside after eight to ten days, and you’ll begin to feel quite a bit better. However, you may continue to experience psychological symptoms such as cravings, insomnia, anxiety, depression, irritability, and difficulty concentrating for several weeks, or possibly even longer.

Try not to be discouraged if unpleasant methadone withdrawal symptoms continue longer than you expected. The symptoms won’t last forever, and they will gradually subside. 

What Is the Best Way to Detox From Methadone?

When determining how to detox off methadone, medical supervision at a methadone detox center such as 1st Step Behavioral Health is the best way. A doctor or nurse will be present around the clock, and they will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, and temperature frequently. You may receive prescribed medications to minimize nausea and other uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Your medical provider may recommend tapering off methadone gradually to minimize withdrawal symptoms, but there’s no single way that works for everybody. If you’re healthy, your doctor may want to taper the drug fairly quickly, or she may recommend slower tapering to ease you off methadone little by little.

Can I Quit Methadone Cold Turkey?

You may be contemplating how to detox from methadone quickly so you can move on with your life. These thoughts are understandable. However, the effects of methadone withdrawal can be intense, and quitting cold turkey, without the direction of a physician, is never a good plan. 

Quitting cold turkey also increases the chance of relapse, and the effects of methadone withdrawal may be so uncomfortable that you may be hesitant to try again.

Should I Try Detoxing Off Methadone at Home?

Don’t attempt methadone detox at home unless your doctor has determined that at-home detox will be safe for you. Be honest with your doctor about your substance use, and follow her directions to the letter. Never try to detox at home if you have diabetes, a heart condition, or any other pre-existing health problem.

Keep in mind that without medical supervision, you may become severely dehydrated as a result of sweating and diarrhea or vomiting. Dehydration can easily result in an electrolyte imbalance that can trigger headaches, muscle cramps, confusion, or dizziness. Although they aren’t a common effect of methadone withdrawal, seizures are possible. 

If your medical provider gives you the go-ahead for methadone detox at home, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Your doctor may recommend electrolyte replacement drinks, and possibly Vitamin C and B supplements. Be sure a friend or family member is with you 24/7 for the first several days, then get into treatment as soon as possible.

How to Help Methadone Withdrawal: Tips & Best Practices

The following tips may help, whether you’re detoxing at home or a methadone detox center:

  • You may not feel like eating much for a few days, but do your best to eat small, nutritious meals regularly. Try bland foods like crackers, toast, or rice. Avoid refined sugar and fatty, greasy foods.
  • Over-the-counter medications may help with headaches, upset stomach, or aches and pains, but always ask your physician first.
  • Go easy on sugary or caffeinated beverages, which can worsen dehydration. Forego alcoholic beverages during detox.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of dehydration, including dry mouth, extreme thirst, little or no urination, or fever.
  • Sip water throughout the day if you feel queasy.
  • Distraction will also help you get through the withdrawal process. Read, listen to music, watch a movie, or talk to a supportive friend. 
  • It may feel good to take a walk in the fresh air, or try gentle stretching or deep breathing. 
  • Acupuncture or massage may also help as you taper off methadone.
  • Call your medical provider immediately if you’re concerned about your symptoms.

Take the 1st Step Towards Methadone Detox Today

If you’re ready to detox from methadone, it’s essential to get all the facts first. Whether you detox at home or at a methadone detox center, treatment is critical and should be started right away. One-on-one or group counseling and education will help you learn methods of coping with stress, and you’ll identify triggers that can lead to relapse. 

At 1st Step Behavioral Health, our team of counselors, physicians, and other professionals will be with you through every step of the process and will ensure you have the highest possible chance of success. Call us at 855-425-4846 or contact us here for more information.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.