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Methadone is one of the drugs commonly used to treat people who are addicted to opiates. In most cases, methadone treatment programs work by replacing heroin or other opiate-based pain relieving medications with methadone - a longer lasting legal alternative - to help addicts attain more normalcy in their lives.
However, methadone can also prove to be highly addictive and mood altering. Additionally, it can be difficult to detoxify your body from this drug - even harder than some prescription opiates and heroin. In fact, the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms from methadone may last for over a month before symptoms begin to subside.
Therefore, irrespective of how badly you might want to stop using methadone, the month of intense and severe withdrawal symptoms might be too difficult to manage on your own. This is particularly so if you have your own life to go about and things to do. As a direct result, most people end up relapsing either back on methadone or on the opiate drugs they were addicted to originally.
Undergoing methadone detox may reduce the accompanying symptoms and make the methadone detox process much safer for you.
Understanding Methadone Withdrawal
Methadone is one of the most physically addictive drugs, particularly if you take it in high doses or for a long period of time. However, it is still commonly used in the treatment of opiate addiction - which many people argue that it is merely trading one type of addiction/dependence for another.
Therefore, if you take this drug daily, you will develop tolerance to it quite fast. This means that you may feel the need to take more of it to achieve its desired and good-feel effects.
After your body becomes tolerant and needs the medication to function normally, you have developed dependence. This means that you will experience adverse withdrawal symptoms once you stop taking methadone.
Withdrawal will happen because your body and brain need to re-adjust and re-learn how to function normally without the substance in its system. As your body tries reestablishing its usual functions, you will experience uncomfortable withdrawal - which makes it very difficult to effectively accomplish any type of rehabilitation.
Since withdrawal is accompanied by adverse symptoms, you are highly advised to undergo medical detox. This will likely be an inpatient medical detox program, and it will help you experience less severe withdrawal symptoms.
As you can well imagine, the withdrawal process for methadone is never the same for everyone. In fact, the duration and symptoms of withdrawal vary greatly from one person to the other depending on the length and severity of the addiction. Additionally, your tolerance and body chemistry will also affect your symptoms as well as the duration of withdrawal.
Who Needs Methadone Detox?
Withdrawing from methadone is accompanied by symptoms that are similar to withdrawal from other opiates - such as morphine and heroin - but which are typically less severe and intense, however they persist for a much greater duration of time.
Therefore, if you experience any of the following symptoms, which can either be moderate or severe, you might want to go for methadone detox:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Muscle aches
- Muscle pains
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach cramps
If your addiction to methadone is more severe, you are highly likely to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, if you are addicted to another substance, your withdrawal might take longer and feel more intense.
In the same way, in case you decide to quit cold turkey, you may experience serious withdrawal. This is why doctors recommend that you taper off your use of the drug to ensure that the withdrawal process is easier for you to bear.
Duration Of Methadone Withdrawal
Methadone's withdrawal symptoms will typically show up within a day of your last dose. However, the drug will take anywhere from 15 to 60 hours to leave your system. Still, other people take a bit longer to start experiencing withdrawal.
Either way, the symptoms will usually last anywhere between 3 and 6 weeks, although it will take a bit longer if your addiction was more severe. In most cases, the first 7 to 10 days might be the worst since this period is usually characterized by distressing psychological symptoms - such as paranoia and anxiety - and flu like physical symptoms. However, these symptoms may start fading over the next few weeks.
- First 72 Hours: The methadone withdrawal symptoms will start a day or so after your last dose; these symptoms include muscle aches, rapid heartbeat, fever, and chills
- Days 3 to 10: Over the next seven or so days, your cravings for methadone will intensify; you might also experience anxiety, irritability, extreme insomnia, nausea and other flu like symptoms.
- Days 11 to 21: By this time, some of the physical withdrawal symptoms might have started fading. However, you may still experience strong cravings for methadone as well as depression - which can cause you to have difficulty getting motivated or feeling pleasure
- Days 22+: Any physical symptoms that persist should be relatively mild; however, the depression and insomnia can still be intermittent as your body starts readjusting a life without the drug
It is always safest to undergo methadone detox in a hospital or drug treatment center. As far as possible, only choose to get detoxification services under the watchful supervision and monitoring of a doctor to ensure that the withdrawal does not become life-threatening.
Most medical detoxification services will taper you off the drug or reduce your doses over a period of time. Tapering off or weaning will reduce the severity of your withdrawal and is the best option, especially in comparison to quitting cold turkey. The only thing you have to contend with is that it just might take you longer.
Overall, undergoing methadone detox in a certified clinic will ensure that you take advantage of the expertise, advice, and supervision of medical personnel and physicians. After that, you can start working with your team to formulate a personalized treatment and rehabilitation plan.
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