How to Stop Taking Methadone After Years of Treatment
Methadone maintenance treatment can be a long and lengthy process, especially for people recovering from chronic opiate addiction. While methadone works wonders at helping individuals live drug-free from day-to-day, it’s not intended to be a lifelong treatment solution.
For people ready to discontinue methadone after years of treatment, knowing how to stop taking methadone the right way can help in avoiding relapse. Since methadone is an opiate-based drug, certain key guidelines should be followed when stopping treatment.
Fortunately, methadone clinics can be of great help in showing you how to stop taking methadone in the safest possible way.
For more information on methadone clinic treatment, call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360.
Methadone Withdrawal Effects
More than anything else, methadone withdrawal effects pose the greatest threat to a person’s ongoing success in recovery. Like any other opiate withdrawal period, both physical and psychological symptoms develop along the way.
While methadone is an opiate-based drug, it differs from other addictive opiates in effect. Methadone produces longer-acting effects than addictive opiates like morphine and fentanyl. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this difference also shows up during the methadone withdrawal phase.
The initial methadone withdrawal stage tends to run longer with symptoms being less intense. On average, this stage runs from three to six weeks, though it can last longer for people who’ve spent years in methadone treatment.
How to Stop Taking Methadone – Methadone Clinic Approach
When it comes to how to stop taking methadone, methadone clinic facilities follow a step-by-step process that works to minimize the degree of discomfort experienced. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, clinics take patients through a tapering phase, which is the last stage of the methadone treatment process.
Tapering entails decreasing your dosage amount by 10 to 20 percent each week based on the degree of withdraw experienced along the way. Overall, the tapering stage can take anywhere from one to six months.
It’s not uncommon to experience some degree of withdrawal during the tapering stage, which can pose a considerable risk to a person’s recovery. To counteract this risk, methadone clinics continue to provide behavior-based interventions for the duration of the methadone treatment process.
Behavior-based treatments, such as support groups, talk therapies and relapse prevention training become especially important during the taper phase due to discomfort that develops as the body adjusts to lower doses of methadone.
Things to Consider Before Stopping Methadone
How to stop taking methadone the right way also entails ensuring your lifestyle is able to support continued abstinence from drug use, so certain conditions should be in place, such as:
- A solid history of complying with methadone treatment protocols and procedures
- A stable home environment
- A reliable income source
- A willingness to resume methadone treatment in the event of relapse
As the overall goal of recovery is to maintain continued abstinence, there’s absolutely no shame in staying on methadone for as long as needed. If one or more of the above conditions is not in place, it’s best to remain in methadone treatment rather than risk compromising your recovery.