How to Get Off Methadone for Good
So, you did it. Years ago, you took a chance and fought against your drug addiction.
When you went to your doctor, they did what they were supposed to do – prescribed you methadone and sent you off to the clinic.
However, it’s now been years since that initial treatment. You’re still on methadone and don’t know how to stop.
Believe it or not, you’re not alone. Many people stay on methadone for years or even their entire lives. They are too afraid of what will happen if they stop taking it altogether.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can get off methadone for good – you just need to work hard and promise yourself never to go back to opioids again.
How Long Is Too Long?
Unfortunately, not many studies have been done on long-term methadone maintenance use. This is probably because the average clinic typically encourages patients to withdrawal from methadone use after only one year.
Don’t Stop Cold Turkey
The absolutely biggest piece of advice for quitting methadone is to not stop cold turkey.
Since you’ve been taking methadone for so long, you have built up a dependence on it.
Quitting without giving your body time to adjust will result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and cravings – the very same feelings you were trying to avoid by starting on methadone in the first place.
Develop a Taper Plan
Instead, work with your doctor to develop a tapering plan that will meet your needs. Generally, the goal of tapering plans is to get you off methadone as quickly as possible while still considering your overall health and wellbeing.
One such plan might entail you reducing your dose by 10 percent each day until you are eventually taking nothing. You might also try reducing your dose by 20 percent every three to five days or even reducing your dose by 25 percent each week.
Generally, this tapering will be easy sailing until you reach around 30 to 45 mg a day. At this point, this isn’t usually enough methadone to stimulate opioid receptor activity in the brain, meaning that you might start to feel some withdrawal symptoms unless your doctor slows down your taper.
Be Ready for Some Symptoms
Unless you’re extremely lucky, you’re going to experience a small amount of withdrawal symptoms. You can breathe a sigh of relief, however, as these are nothing compared to withdrawal symptoms of drug like heroin.
Some of the most common symptoms people can experience include:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Stomach pain
- Hot flashes and chills
- Problems sleeping
- Depression and anxiety
Avoid Other Drugs
While you might be tempted to self-medicate in an attempt to decrease your withdrawal symptoms, avoid this. Taking an opioid painkiller will land you right back where you started – addicted and unhappy.
Even central nervous system depressants, such as codeine or alcohol, can react negatively with methadone and produce more severe symptoms.
Getting off of methadone won’t be a walk in the park, but it’s nothing compared to the original struggle you went through before.
Now that you are in a better place, you understand how important it is to never let drugs dictate your life.
With a little help, you’ll be methadone free in no time.