Methadone Detox Treatment
Methadone is commonly prescribed as a substitute for heroin, as this opiate-based substance has been found to be less dangerous than its more notorious counterpart.
However methadone has the potential to be highly addictive, and a dependency on this substance can lead to overdose and even death. While these risks are not as widely discussed as those of other opiates, they should be considered before methadone is prescribed.
As a result of its addictive properties, methadone is increasingly being used on a recreational basis for the sedative effects that can occur when misused. One study revealed that of the 1117 deaths in the UK attributed to methadone between 2007-2012, only 36% of these resulted from individuals who were receiving methadone treatment. 
If you are concerned that you may be struggling with a methadone addiction or dependency, it is recommended that you undergo complete physical detoxification within a rehabilitation centre.
Why is a methadone detox necessary?
Addiction to methadone can result in a range of detrimental effects to your physical, mental and emotional health. It can put a strain on your relationships with family and friends, negatively affect your employment opportunities and prevent you from living the happy, fulfilled life that you deserve.
While the physical effects of methadone are only one part of the problem, it is essential to cleanse the body of this substance before psychological treatment can take place.  There is an increased risk of overdose when taking methadone, particularly if this substance is being obtained and taken illegally, and part of removing this risk involves undergoing full detoxification.
How can I detox from methadone safely?
While the methadone withdrawal process is notoriously difficult and unpleasant, it is possible to detox from this substance safely and reduce the chances of serious illness or a potential relapse.
The safest and most effective way to detox from methadone is to enter a specialised rehabilitation centre, where patients are monitored 24/7 by medical professionals throughout the course of the withdrawal. If an individual begins to exhibit severe symptoms or any signs of dehydration, they receive immediate medical treatment to ensure their safety and to provide as much comfort as possible.
It is not recommended to quit methadone cold turkey. Instead, the dosage should be slowly tapered off over a period of time until the individual is no longer ingesting the substance. This can help to reduce and alleviate many of the most uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Medical professionals can also prescribe certain medications in order to make the process of withdrawal more comfortable and easier to bear. These may include naloxone, buprenorphine and clonidine, all of which can help to reduce the intensity of symptoms and prevent cravings in some cases.
What are the symptoms of methadone withdrawal?
If you have been taking methadone for a period of time, your body will have become used to functioning with this substance in the system. When the methadone is removed the body needs to rebalance and learn to function naturally again, and this process can cause a number of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Some people may have more intense symptoms than others, and this depends on a number of factors including:
- The severity of the addiction
- The length of the addiction
- Any co-occurring mental health disorders
- Whether they have experienced methadone withdrawal in the past
- The presence of any other substances or medications in their system
- The individual’s general physical and mental health
If you attempt to quit methadone cold turkey, your symptoms will likely be more intense and difficult to deal with. It is always recommended to slowly taper off the dosage of this substance over a period of time, and this should be done through a professional treatment plan.
Common symptoms of methadone withdrawal include:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Anxiety and depression
- Flu-like symptoms including a fever, runny nose and chills
- Intense cravings for methadone
- Muscle aches
- Excessive perspiration
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal issues including diarrhoea
- Stomach cramps
- Fast heartbeat
Even the mildest withdrawal symptoms can get worse very quickly, which is why it is recommended to detox from methadone under the care of medical professionals. If you are attempting to withdraw from this substance alone and begin to experience severe symptoms, seek medical advice immediately as the risk of dehydration or relapse may be increased.
Can I die during a methadone detox?
When attempted under medical supervision, the risk of death or serious illness resulting from a methadone detox is extremely low. However, if severe symptoms occur and medical treatment is not promptly sought, a methadone detox could be potentially life-threatening.
Excessive perspiration, vomiting and diarrhoea can lead to dehydration if the individual is unable to consume an adequate amount of fluids throughout the process. This can result in serious illness or even death, and the risk is higher if a methadone detox is attempted at home without medical supervision.
Opiate withdrawal is notoriously difficult with a high risk of relapse, and many people who attempt to quit methadone cold turkey may find the symptoms unbearable. In these cases, the risk of relapse and the possibility of an overdose is increased, and this experience may prevent the individual from attempting to recover in the future.
Common signs of a methadone overdose include:
- Blue-tinged lips and fingernails
- Skin that is cold and clammy to the touch
- Slow and shallow breathing
- Confusion and disorientation
- Low blood pressure
- Extreme drowsiness
If you suspect that someone is experiencing a methadone overdose, call 999 and seek medical treatment immediately as this situation can quickly become fatal. 
How long does it take to detox from methadone?
Depending on the severity of the addiction, a methadone detox can last for 2-3 weeks or up to six months. In some cases, the lingering psychological effects can continue for up to two years.
As methadone can remain in the system for a long period of time, it may take a day or two before withdrawal symptoms begin to appear. The first week of detox is usually the most difficult with a number of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms presenting simultaneously, but they should begin to taper offer by the second week of treatment.
Each person will experience methadone withdrawal differently, but symptoms generally follow a particular timeline which can give you some idea of what to expect during the detox process.
Day 1 of methadone withdrawal
Many people will not experience symptoms during the first day of withdrawal, as the substance is still present in their system.
Days 2-7 of methadone withdrawal
Physical symptoms will usually begin to appear on the second day, with many people experiencing flu-like symptoms and feelings of nausea. These symptoms will persist over the following week and will begin to include psychological symptoms such as anxiety and intense cravings for methadone.
Days 9-14 of methadone withdrawal
After the first week, the physical symptoms should begin to subside although some people may experience them for a longer period of time. The psychological effects of withdrawal are more apparent during this week, with feelings of depression and irritability set in.
Days 15+ of methadone withdrawal
Many of the most intense withdrawal symptoms will have faded, although some people will experience lingering effects that occur on and off for a number of months and even up to two years in some cases.
Can I detox from methadone at home?
The highest rates of success regarding methadone detoxes come from patients who have undergone detoxification and withdrawal within a professional rehabilitation centre. In some instances, this process can be completed as an outpatient, but this is considered on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on the severity of the addiction among other factors.
A medically approved treatment plan can be personalised for the individual patient within a rehabilitation centre, slowly tapering off the dosage of methadone in a manner designed to reduce and prevent severe withdrawal symptoms.
Many people who attempt to detox at home will completely stop taking methadone cold turkey, but this method comes with an increased chance of relapse as the withdrawal symptoms may become too uncomfortable to bear.
Patients also have access to prescribed medication within a rehabilitation centre that can make the process more comfortable, and this medication may be more difficult to obtain if the individual attempts to detox at home.
Where can I go to detox from methadone?
If you are struggling with a methadone addiction and wish to begin the process of detoxification, we’re here to help.
With our experience and resources, we can put you in touch with specialised rehabilitation centres and treatment programmes designed to guide you safely through the withdrawal stage, and many of these facilities also offer psychological counselling and aftercare services to increase the chances of long-term recovery.
Our team here at OK Rehab are just a phone call away – get in touch and start your recovery journey today.