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(Who Answers?).

Methadone Withdrawal Effects

Stop Taking Methadone

If treatment has been successful, you may be ready to stop taking methadone.

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.

Behavior-Based Treatments

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.

Thinking About Getting Off Methadone? Here’s How

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.

If you have questions about discontinuing methadone or need help finding a methadone program, call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360(Who Answers?).

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.