Methadone: Treatment Medication for Opioid Use Disorder

You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid use disorder, treatment is available. Rather, each treatment plan is tailored to the unique needs of each individual.

Benefits of Methadone Maintenance Treatment

The main treatment is to replace the short-acting drug with a longer-acting opioid, such as methadone or buprenorphine (Buprenex). Your doctor will gradually lower the dose of the drug over one or two weeks to give your body time to adjust. Withdrawal may be done at home, but it should take place under the guidance of your healthcare provider. Talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment goals, and work with them to make a plan for your discontinuation of opioids. Treatment typically involves medications, counseling, and support. Non‐opioid medications to treat OWS provides a gateway into long‐term treatment with naltrexone or psychosocial therapies.

  • Opioid withdrawal is rarely dangerous for healthy adults, but some people need to be more cautious than others.
  • If you don’t have access to a mental health professional, here’s how you can find support.
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms will emerge if someone who is opioid-dependent stops using opioids.3 Dependence describes the state when the body has adapted to the sustained presence of a drug.


Withdrawal ends when the brain relearns to function without opioids. But opioid withdrawal is so uncomfortable that many people are unable to stop using the drugs long enough to heal. Addiction treatment can methadone withdrawal start anyone battling substance misuse on the path to a happier and healthier life. Rehab centers are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

A minority of patients withdrawing from stimulants may become significantly distressed or agitated, presenting a danger to themselves or others. Symptoms begin within 24 hours of last use of stimulants and last for 3-5 days. Patients in benzodiazepine withdrawal should be monitored regularly for symptoms and complications. These symptoms tend to be subjective, with few observable signs. You may also be asked to participate in the Subjective Opioid Withdrawal Scale (SOWS) assessment to determine the presence and severity of your discomfort.

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methadone withdrawal

The greater the amount of opioid used by the patient the greater the dose of codeine phosphate required to control withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms that are not satisfactorily reduced by codeine phosphate can be managed with symptomatic treatment as required (see Table 3). Methadone treatment for other opioid addictions is a medical process that requires ongoing support.

Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

Regardless of the ultimate treatment goal, management of acute OWS is the first step during opioid discontinuation or dose reduction. For patients using short‐acting opioids, OWS will emerge within 18–24 hours of the first missed dose. Failure to recognize and manage OWS may cause patients to abandon their recovery attempt at the outset while effective OWS treatment serves as a bridge to longer‐term treatment. However, a detailed discussion of OUD treatment after the early phase of opioid withdrawal is beyond the scope of this review (for review, see ref.23). Studies have compared these dosage tapers to other approaches, but details of these dosage tapers are not covered in this paper.

  • Withdrawal can take place at home, in a detox center, or a hospital.
  • Ask your pharmacist about a drug take-back program, or flush the unused medicine down the toilet.
  • Do not take morphine, buprenorphine, codeine or any other opioids while taking methadone.
  • Methadone is often used to help treat opioid dependence, but it can also cause withdrawal symptoms.

Reversing an Opioid Overdose

It helps to remember that these symptoms are temporary and should resolve within the year. Talk to your doctor, a pharmacist or your key worker if you’re unsure whether it’s safe for you to drive while using methadone. However, speak to your key worker or GP if you’re trying to get pregnant. If recreational drugs are part of your life, getting help can really improve the outlook for you and your baby.

STAT Plus: Q&A: Nora Volkow on how to get ‘at least 50% less people dying’ from opioid overdose

  • However, as noted above a range of medications are commonly used off‐label for symptomatic management of insomnia, diarrhea, anxiety, and other withdrawal symptoms.
  • In this type of therapy, a team of healthcare professionals will closely monitor you as you’re tapered slowly off the medication in a safe and controlled way.
  • Inpatient programs, also sometimes referred to as residential, provide the patient with around-the-clock medical treatment, a variety of therapy programs, and valuable life skills training.
  • Once OUD or opioid physical dependence is recognized and the patient requests or consents to treatment, a long‐term treatment strategy must be defined.