Methadone detoxification (detox) is a process of getting rid of the methadone in a person’s system, by letting it leave the body naturally.
Detoxing from methadone can be very uncomfortable. It also carries a risk for opioid relapse and overdose in people with a history of opioid addiction.
Beginning a detox program for getting off methadone is highly recommended to help prevent potential risks of methadone withdrawal.
Find out more about using methadone to detox from opioids
Methadone Detox Programs
Methadone detox may be offered through an inpatient detox center, or be accomplished on an outpatient basis with a robust support system.
Inpatient detoxification is highly recommended for people who have a history of opioid abuse or addiction, or who have been taking methadone for a long time.
Outpatient detox is less intensive. This does not provide around-the-clock supervision, nor is there medical assistance for potential complications that might develop during withdrawal.
Read more about methadone withdrawal symptoms and the timeline
Inpatient detox, also known as medical detox or medically supervised detox, refers to an acute, 24-hour detox program that takes place in a clinical detox setting.
Within inpatient detox, individuals can receive medicine for withdrawal symptoms and be monitored regularly for medical complications—which are rare but can occur.
What inpatient detox programs can offer:
- medical supervision
- medicine for symptom relief
- quiet environment
- fluid support (i.e. IV therapy)
Inpatient detox programs are short-term. After detox, it’s common for doctors to recommend additional treatment, such as a substance abuse treatment program.
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Outpatient detox programs involve detoxing from methadone without entering a detox facility for 24-hour care.
This can be a more difficult process and is not recommended for people with a history of chronic or severe drug addiction.
What outpatient detox can offer:
- regular check-ins with a doctor
- prescription or over-the-counter medicine for withdrawal
- counseling sessions
Outpatient detox is most suitable for people who have a robust support system at home. It is not suitable for people who are at high risk for severe withdrawal or relapse.
Benefits Of Medical Detox For Methadone
Medical detox is the safest type of detox program for people with a history of drug abuse and addiction.
Medical detox programs prevent the risk of a person returning to drugs of abuse during the withdrawal process, and can offer medical support for severe withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone Tapering: Tapering Off Methadone
Tapering off methadone may be recommended for people who have been taking methadone for a long time to help prevent severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Tapering should not be attempted alone. It’s important to develop a tapering plan that’s customized to your specific needs. This can be done with a medical doctor or treatment team.
Tapering off methadone involves a gradual process of reducing the amount of methadone you take over time. This can take several weeks, or potentially months.
Methadone Detox FAQs
Find answers to frequently asked questions about methadone detox and how to detox from methadone.
How Long Does Methadone Detox Last?
Fully detoxing from methadone can last anywhere from 10 to 20 days, on average.
Factors that can affect this timeline include:
- amount of methadone last taken
- duration of methadone use
- frequency of methadone use
- treatment provided for methadone withdrawal symptoms
Acute detox programs can offer support as individuals undergo peak withdrawal. After this, additional treatment such as counseling or a drug rehab program may be recommended.
What Medications Are Used For Methadone Detox?
If you’re detoxing in a detox center, medical staff may administer medications to help ease symptoms of withdrawal, such as nausea, diarrhea, and hypertension.
Medications approved for use during detox include:
- lofexidine (Lucemyra)
- buprenorphine (after first 36 hours of withdrawal)
- codeine phosphate
- nutritional supplements
Can You Detox From Methadone At Home?
Detoxing at home is possible, but this isn’t generally recommended, particularly for people with a history of substance abuse.
At-home detox comes with several risks, including potential medical complications, severe withdrawal, relapse to opioids of abuse, and opioid overdose.
What Comes After Methadone Detox?
If someone is detoxing from methadone after taking it for opioid use disorder, further treatment with counseling or behavioral therapy will likely be recommended.
If someone is detoxing from methadone addiction, detox may be followed by a full rehab program through an inpatient treatment center or outpatient rehab facility.
Is Methadone Detox Free?
Detoxification services are covered by some health insurance plans.
Whether you’re eligible for this coverage may depend on:
- the specific rehab center
- your insurance policy
- the type of detox program
Co-payment, premium, and deductible requirements may apply. For those without health insurance, some detox centers may offer free detox or low-cost detox for those who qualify.
What Happens During Methadone Detox?
Beginning a detox program will involve an admissions process, an initial intake, and close monitoring of symptoms during acute withdrawal.
What this might include:
- receiving nutritional and hydration support
- having vital signs checked
- receiving medicine for withdrawal symptoms
- a lot of rest
- gradually introducing a new medication for opioid use disorder (as applicable)
What detox looks like can vary according to the type of detox program, the setting (i.e. inpatient vs. outpatient), and other physical or mental health needs.
Who Needs Methadone Detox?
Detox is a type of treatment program designed for people who have become physically dependent on an addictive substance, including drugs such as alcohol and opioids.
Signs you might need to detox:
- you’ve taken methadone for more than a few weeks
- you have a history of opioid dependence
- you can’t miss a dose without feeling physically sick
Withdrawal is the primary indicator that someone can benefit from a detox program. While it’s possible to detox outside of a formal program, this isn’t recommended.
How Long Does It Take To Feel Better After Detoxing From Methadone?
Most physical withdrawal symptoms, such as severe nausea or muscle pains, go away within the first two to three weeks after stopping methadone.
Lingering symptoms of withdrawal, such as difficulty sleeping, depression, or cravings for methadone, may be a sign of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
These withdrawal symptoms can last for several months or years in some people. Attending counseling, behavioral therapy, or a recovery support group may help with this.
Find Methadone Detox Today
Getting off methadone should not be attempted alone. If you’re looking for a detox program for yourself or a loved one, we may be able to help.
Call us today to learn more about methadone detox and to find a methadone detox program that’s right for you.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- American Family Physician — Lofexicine (Lucemyra) for Treatment of Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — TIP 45 Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: NCBI Bookshelf — Withdrawal Management - Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence