methadone taper

7 Things You Need to Know About Tapering Off Methadone

Over 2 million people in the U.S. abuse opioids. Methadone is used as a prescription drug to fight opioid addiction.

Methadone relieves pain and prevents opioid withdrawal symptoms. Most methadone treatment programs keep patients on the drug longterm. This is because research shows that patients on methadone are less likely to relapse.

But what if you’re ready for complete recovery?

Here are 7 things you need to know about tapering off methadone.

Process of Addiction

Pharmaceutical companies convinced doctors that addiction to opioid pain relievers was uncommon. This occurred in the 1990s. This led doctors to prescribe pain medication at greater rates than before.

This caused an uptick in the number of people using opioid medications. Unfortunately, patients with pain often become tolerant to normal doses of medication. They need higher doses of medication to stop the pain.

When their prescription runs out, many patients turn to illegal opioids for self-medication.

Opioids bind to receptors in the brain blocking pain and causing a dopamine rush. The dopamine rush is addictive because it causes pleasure and relaxation. Over time, brain chemistry alters and becomes damaged.

When it comes to weaning from the opioids, methadone is the drug of choice. It prevents withdrawal symptoms because its effects are slower than other painkillers. Weaning from methadone isn’t easy since it’s also an opioid.

Freedom of Choice

Many treatment programs never mention methadone weaning. They prefer indefinite treatment with methadone so patients avoid relapse. This means patients have no choice when it comes to their treatment plans.

That’s unfortunate since long-term methadone use has potential unhealthy side effects. Methadone is also sometimes fatal with thousands of deaths each year from an overdose.

In studies, methadone side effects show that it can affect both memory and learning. In rats, there were brain cell changes even after the methadone was no longer in the body. Attention spans were also shortened.

Tapering Off Methadone

If you’re ready to taper off methadone, what’s the best way?

Never stop methadone treatment cold turkey. Always taper under the supervision of a doctor.

Although methadone eases withdrawal symptoms from other opiates, it also has withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Profuse sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Shivering
  • Rhinorrhea (a runny nose)

Methadone withdrawal symptoms sometimes last longer than opioid withdrawal symptoms.

1. Find a Counselor

You’ll need a counselor or therapist. Many therapists specialize in addiction treatment. Meet with the counselor on a regular basis. If you don’t have the means for a counselor, get into an appropriate 12-step program.

You’ll need a good support system. Sometimes family members aren’t the best support and can even undermine your attempts at detox. Surround yourself with people who won’t sabotage your efforts.

2. Address Life Issues First

Reduce your stress before tapering.

Focus on life basics such as a job, a place to live, and marriage issues first. Work on healthy habits. Work through emotional triggers such as losses caused by opioid use.

Many drug abusers lose everything before getting off drugs and onto methadone maintenance. If these issues aren’t addressed first, opioid relapse is more likely after tapering.

Address the spiritual and emotional problems caused by drug addiction. Get your finances in order.

3. Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Make healthy lifestyle changes. Increase your exercise. Adopt a healthy eating plan with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein.

Stay hydrated by drinking at least half your body weight in water daily. If you weight 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water per day.

Take a multivitamin.

4. Be Patient

It could take a year or more when implementing healthy lifestyle changes. Be patient. Don’t begin tapering off methadone until you’re ready. Don’t rush the tapering process itself either.

Tapering off methadone takes about three months. To taper means cutting the dose down every week or every other week.

Overall, tapering from methadone has a success rate between 25-50%. The more prepared you are the more likely you’ll succeed.

If you’re taking 10 mg of methadone once per day, your dose is lowered to 8 mg at the end of week two of tapering. At the end of week four, the dosage is lowered to 6 mg.

The dose is lowered to 4 mg, then 2 mg, and then stopped. Most methadone tapers reduce the drug by about 20% every two weeks.

Research shows that slow tapering is more successful than tapering too fast. Remember that methadone stays in the body for as much as two weeks after the last dose.

The process of tapering may take a few months. But the process of being drug-free lasts a lifetime. Be patient with yourself.

5. Use an Experienced Doctor

Use a doctor with experience in addiction and drug withdrawal. You need a doctor who understands the treatment of withdrawal symptoms.

The doctor can prescribe other medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications.

If you’re having nausea and vomiting, the doctor can prescribe anti-emetics. These drugs relieve nausea.

6. Decide Where You’ll Detox

You can detox at home or in a treatment center. There are benefits and risks with both options. The familiarity of home is nice.

But quick access to experienced doctors and nurses in a treatment center is a plus.

Talk to your counselor and doctor about what the best option is for you and your situation.

7. Consider Alternative Adjunct Treatments

Some withdrawal symptoms cause problems of their own. Some patients have trouble sleeping during or after methadone withdrawal.

Sleep deprivation causes its own set of problems. It also sets you up for a drug relapse.

If you’re having trouble with symptoms such as sleeplessness, consider alternatives to drugs. Meditation, prayers, and acupuncture are non-drug alternatives that work well for many patients.

In The End, You Must Persevere!

Detoxing from drugs is difficult. There are no easy solutions or magic pills. Coming off methadone is a process. Set yourself up for success before you start tapering.

Get a good addiction counselor. Address your most difficult life issues and triggers and adopt healthy lifestyle changes. Consider alternative treatments for issues that present during the tapering process.

Now that you’re drug-free, enjoy your life’s journey! Looking for more information about drug addiction and detox? Find more information about opioid addiction here.


[1] American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from American Psychiatric Association:

[2] Medical News Today. (2011, March 24). Possible Harmful Effects From Prolonged Use of Methadone. Retrieved from Medical News Today:

[3] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2019, January 22). What Is The U.S. Opioid Epidemic? Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

detox symptoms

Be Prepared: Opiate Detox Symptoms and How to Minimize Them

The United States is facing an opioid crisis–nearly 115 people die every day due to opioid misuse. Opiates are just a subcategory of opioids, and they significantly contribute to the opioid epidemic. If you’re currently battling an opiate addiction, you probably know how detox symptoms feel. And it’s important to start cutting this dangerous habit out of your life as soon as you can.

You might feel trapped when you have an opiate addiction, but there are plenty of ways that can help you quit. As you probably already know, the withdrawal symptoms aren’t pleasant.

Fortunately, your withdrawal symptoms can be reduced with certain treatments and medications. Let’s take a look at the opiate withdrawal process and how you can manage your detox symptoms.

What are Opiates?

Opiates are narcotics made from the poppy flower. They’re typically used as pain-relievers, but they can quickly become addictive. The following list of opiates can result in addiction and dependency:

  • Codeine
  • Darvocet
  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Heroin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Lortab
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycontin
  • Percocet
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Vicodin

Causes of Opiate Addiction and Dependence

When you take an opiate, the drug enters the bloodstream. Soon, the opiate’s effects will reach your brain. Opiates are highly addictive due to the fact that they attach to the brain’s opioid receptors.

When the opiate attaches itself to these receptors, it not only relieves your pain, but it also releases dopamine. Dopamine is associated with a sensation of pleasure–this is what makes it so hard to stop taking opiates. The release of dopamine also blocks noradrenaline, making you feel more drowsy.

If you take opiates for long enough, your brain will become used to high dopamine levels and low amounts of noradrenaline. Your brain will soon only be able to function correctly when you take opiates, and you will become physically dependent on the medication.

Over time, your brain will stop responding to the dopamine from opiates. This means that you’ll feel the need to take higher amounts of opiates so you can feel “normal” again. This is a sign that your body has become tolerant of opiates.

Why Does Opiate Withdrawal Occur?

Opiate withdrawal happens when you become physiologically dependent on opiates. In other words, your body won’t feel right if you’re not taking opiates. Withdrawal symptoms usually appear if you stop taking the drug, or if you lower the dosage.

All opiates are processed through your body at varying speeds. This is why it’s hard to predict when your withdrawal symptoms might start–it all depends on what drug you’re taking.

For example, heroin’s half-life can be a few hours or a few minutes. On the other hand, Vicodin and Oxycontin can stay in your body for 4 to 6 hours, while methadone has a long half-life of about 30 hours.

Detox Symptoms

It’s difficult to answer the question: “How long do withdrawal symptoms last?” Your symptoms and length of opiate withdrawal can vary greatly.

The severity of your withdrawal process is related to how dependent you are on opiate drugs, how long you’ve been taking it, how much you’re taking, what opiate you’re taking, and if you have any mental or physical health conditions. Your withdrawal process might look like the following example, but it can change depending on several factors.

Initial Withdrawal Symptoms

You’ll start to feel withdrawal symptoms in about 6-12 hours if you’re taking opiates with a short half-life. Withdrawal symptoms for opiates with a longer half-life begin 30 hours or later. These are some of the symptoms you might experience initially:

  • Anxiety
  • A runny nose
  • Achy muscles
  • Watery eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Last Withdrawal Symptoms

Your worst symptoms typically happen within three days. These symptoms could last a week or more.

  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Opiate craving
  • Stomach pain
  • Goosebumps
  • Vomiting

It’s common for opiate cravings and depression to last longer than a week. In this case, it’s important to seek out mental health care from a substance abuse program.

Medical Detox Treatment

While some may prefer to stick with natural remedies to cure opiate withdrawal symptoms, others find that medical treatments work better.

It’s important to talk with your doctor first if you want to stop taking opiates so they can provide you with a treatment plan. Remember to never stop taking opiates suddenly, as some withdrawal side effects can be dangerous.

Choosing to undergo medical detox can provide you with pharmacological and psychological support as you slowly wean yourself off of opiates. You’ll stay inside a medical setting where a team of medical professionals can monitor you and provide you with medications to help your detox be as comfortable as possible.

Medical detox typically occurs for a period of 5-7 days.

Opiate Detox at Home

If you choose to undergo opiate or heroin detox in the comfort of your home, your doctor will likely prescribe you with medication to reduce your withdrawal symptoms. Here are some of the medications you can take during your detox and how they can help you:


Methadone is a drug that alleviates the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. You can use methadone for maintenance in order to lessen opioid dependence. Methadone will be gradually reduced over time until withdrawal symptoms are completely gone.


Like Methadone, Buprenorphine can make it more comfortable to withdraw from opiates. You can take this drug for a long period of time as well.


During your detox, you might feel sweaty, anxious, achy, and have a runny nose. Your doctor may prescribe Clonidine to help relieve these symptoms.


Doctors prescribe Naltrexone to help you avoid relapsing. You can receive this medication by mouth or through an injection. It’s not a good idea to take this drug when opiates are still in your body, as it can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms.

Learn More About Methadone

Curing an opiate addiction may be a long, difficult process, but your health will improve greatly once you’re opiate-free. Don’t let detox symptoms make you start reaching for that pill bottle again. There are plenty of treatments that can kill your craving, and make you feel like yourself again.

Methadone is a powerful drug that can help you throughout your detox. Click here to learn more about using methadone for opiate withdrawal or contact us today at (855) 976-2092.


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from DrugAbuse.Gov:

[2] European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. (2007, October 15). How does the opioid system control pain, reward, and addictive behavior?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 13, 2019 from

mindfulness addiction

Why Is Mindfulness Important? How Mindfulness Meditation Can Help You Beat Opioid Addiction

Are you curious about the relationship between mindfulness and addiction recovery?

The term “mindfulness” has been tossed around a lot lately. Many people assume that mindfulness is only for Buddhist monks and yoga practitioners.

However, the concept of being mindful can apply to all aspects of our lives. Mindfulness can help us navigate medical issues, relationships, and mental health with greater ease.

But why is mindfulness important when it comes to addictions?

In this post, we look closely at the ways practicing mindfulness can aid in opioid addiction recovery.

What is Mindfulness?

“Being mindful” generally means being more aware. But what does it mean to practice awareness?

We are aware when we are able to closely observe the life around us–including our own. What’s more, true mindfulness is awareness without judgment.

A great way to understand mindfulness is through meditation.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is so much more than just ‘clearing the mind.’

When meditating, people embody stillness. They do this by physically sitting still (or lying down). They also practice observing the mind’s activity without directly engaging with that activity.

Through this stillness, meditation may actually quiet or ‘clear’ the mind. It can also enable meditators to focus on something else, like their breathing. Meditators may also internally repeat a mantra, a key phrase or word.

Mantras and breathing practices can encourage greater awareness in the present moment–without judgment or emotional attachment.

Mindfulness, then, is much the same. It means moving about our day-to-day lives with more awareness of our actions, our feelings, and our environment.

It also means being more intentional in general. When we are deliberate about our actions, we tend to act from a space of awareness.

You can practice mindfulness in hundreds of ways, including meditation. You can be mindful when eating, for example, or cultivate mindfulness through yoga, tai chi, and exercise.

Indeed, mindfulness is more a lifestyle than an activity!

Mindfulness and Addictions

So why is mindfulness important when it comes to addictions?

Physical and Psychological Dependency

Let’s think about what addiction actually is. When someone is addicted to a substance or a behavior, he or she is said to “depend” on that thing.

When it comes to substance addiction, this dependency is often extremely physical. Addicts may experience severe and painful withdrawal symptoms if they become too dependent on a certain substance.

These withdrawal symptoms launch a vicious cycle of dependency. In many cases, the easiest cure for these symptoms is more of the substance itself.

Yet addictions aren’t always purely physical. In many ways, they also involve psychological elements.

This is especially true when it comes to behavioral dependencies, such as sex addictions.

Being Mindful

Luckily, mindfulness can aid with both physical and psychological dependencies.

One of the first steps to change, after all, is awareness. Recognizing and acknowledging a dependency often has to happen first before an individual can seek help.

Yet it can take time to get to that point. Many addicts experience no small amount of shame in admitting a dependency. Others may not believe help is an option.

That’s where mindfulness comes in. Cultivating greater awareness of how you are experiencing an addiction can make it easier to actually claim that addiction.

Individuals can cultivate awareness in a variety of ways. They can use meditation, for example, or even a vigorous run to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

They can also learn more about the nature of their dependency–what may be lurking underneath the surface.

All of these actions serve to empower addicts, helping them to understand themselves and their addictions.

How to Be Mindful When Recovering From Addiction

How can you be mindful when you are recovering from an addiction?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Practice Awareness Without Judgment

This is essential when it comes to addiction recovery. Addictions often perpetuate or exacerbate self-judgment.

As you recover from an addiction, you may be experiencing negative self-talk.

You may also be questioning your ability to recover. Some people experience judgment from friends and family members as they seek treatment.

Practice mindfulness by observing things without judgment. Meditation practices can help in this regard.

If you do find yourself judging how you are feeling, practice acknowledging that judgment–and then try to let it go.

Avoid the impulse to analyze. Save that for a counseling couch!

2. Use Deep Breathing

There’s a reason why a lot of yoga practitioners emphasize the value of deep breathing. Paying attention to our breath is a great way to stay grounded in the present moment.

It can also help us become more mindful, if only for a handful of minutes.

Use deep, steady breathing to practice mindfulness. This can be valuable when you are experiencing turbulent emotions or intense withdrawal symptoms.

It can also be helpful if you are having trouble falling asleep, curbing cravings, or talking with loved ones.

3. Be Physically Mindful

It’s important to take care of your body as you are recovering from any addiction. Practice physically mindful habits to ensure your recovery is as smooth as possible.

This means eating nourishing, healthy food. It may also mean exercising as much as possible (without overdoing it).

You may wish to do body scans to check in with how you are feeling in any given moment. These can be really useful when it comes to working through emotions or withdrawal symptoms.

Why is Mindfulness Important?

Why is mindfulness important when it comes to addiction recovery? Recovering from an addiction can be psychologically and physically challenging.

Mindfulness means awareness. Practicing non-judgmental awareness of your recovery process can ensure a safe and intentional healing process.

It can also make sure you are giving your body the love it deserves during this difficult time and help to reduce stress. Being mindful can make it easier to transition to a treatment center or program. It can even help with your relationships during this time.

What’s more, mindfulness habits can supplement an existing treatment plan, including using methadone. Curious about how methadone can help you or a loved one recover from opioid addiction?

Learn more here or give us a call at  (855) 976- 2092!


Inner IDEA. (n.d.). Meditation 101: Techniques, Benefits, and a Beginner’s How-To. Retrieved from GAIAM.COM:

Astin J, A: Stress Reduction through Mindfulness Meditation. Psychother Psychosom 1997;66:97-106. doi: 10.1159/000289116 Retrieved From: