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?

Get Off Methadone

You should develop a taper plan with your doctor to avoid withdrawal as much as possible.

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.

However, it’s really up to you to decide how long is too long when it comes to methadone maintenance treatment. Not sure what to do? Give us a call at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) for more advice.

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:

  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Stomach pain
  • Hot flashes and chills
  • Problems sleeping
  • Depression and anxiety

How to Stop Taking Methadone After Years of Treatment

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.

Ready to get started now? Give us a call at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?) to learn more about the methadone detox process.

How our helpline works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the helpline is a private and convenient solution.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.