Benefits & Risks of methadone to combat opiate addiction

5 Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms You Need to Know About

symptoms of methadone withdrawal

Did you know that methadone is commonly used to treat opioid addiction?

Methadone is a synthetic drug that is similar to morphine in terms of the effects but has proven to be longer lasting. Prescribed by a doctor, it is used as a substitute drug in the treatment of opioid addiction.

Using methadone to come down from an opioid addiction is a safe method of detoxing. It functions by replacing the opioids in an addict’s system with similar yet milder effects.

While methadone has proven effective for addicts, coming off of methadone has its own set of symptoms. If you or someone you love is suffering from opioid addiction, you’re going to want to learn about methadone.

Here is our guide to methadone and the five most common withdrawal symptoms.

1. Opioid Cravings

The most common and anticipated withdrawal symptom from methadone is the craving to continue using. As with any addiction, the body and brain’s functionality begins to rely on the drug. Once the body is no longer receiving the drug, it becomes disoriented and craves the drug.

This is why treatment programs slowly wean users off of methadone rather than quitting cold turkey.

If an addict decides to quit methadone without slowly easing the dosage, the withdrawal symptoms will be more intense. This is often the case when users consider deciding to detox at home rather than at a treatment center.

Because the body is no longer receiving the methadone it was used to, the cravings are more extreme and difficult to resist.

When slowly reducing the methadone intake (often with the help of a program) the cravings are less sudden and less intense. With this method, the doctor will track your body’s response to the methadone and slowly adjust the intake.

As with most drugs, cravings can recur months and even years after finally getting clean. Learn more here to help survive going through withdrawal and overcome cravings.

2. Flu-Like Symptoms

Those suffering from methadone withdrawal will often compare the symptoms to flu-like symptoms. This is usually characterized by feeling on the brink of the flu or stomach virus and becomes more intense as the days go on. This can be characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills

Of course, the extremity of these symptoms is dependent on the usage levels of the addict and their methods of quitting. If the addict was suffering from heavy opioid use and suddenly quits cold turkey, the symptoms will be more sudden an intense.

3. Muscle Aches and Pains

After the last dosage of methadone, one of the most prevalent symptoms includes muscle aches and pain. Because the muscles are so used to feeling numb, they forget what it’s like to suddenly experience feeling.

Similar to flu-like symptoms, the user is likely to experience various physical aches and pains. The body may feel continuously exhausted, weak and incapable of daily activities.

The user may also find they experience sudden and very intense body temperature changes. One minute the may be sweating while the next minute their body is overcome by coldness and chill.

This can be characterized by the sudden need to be free of any clothing and next feel the need to have a hot shower.

4. Shakes

Tremors are one of the most common early symptoms of withdrawal for any drug.

While shakes and tremors may be immediate symptoms, they become most prevalent after the first few days of withdrawal. This is usually after nausea and physical pains begin to diminish.

This can be characterized by a decrease in fine motor skills and noticeable shaking in the body. most notably, the tremors occur in the hands and fingers which can make it difficult to hold objects and perform small tasks. The body may also experience sudden muscle spasms.

For physical symptoms such as tremors, the expected length of methadone withdrawal symptoms is up to a few weeks. As time goes on, the physical symptoms will become less intense and less noticeable.

5. Anxiety and Irritability

Unfortunately for users, the symptoms of withdrawal are not limited to physical vulnerabilities. The most challenging and emotionally exhausting toll withdrawal takes on a user is on one’s mental health and well-being.

Withdrawal occurs when the body has to learn how to function without the drug. When this occurs, the body is undergoing a significant change that has an extreme influence on one’s mental health.

This can be characterized by extremely low moods and irritability as well as paranoia and unease. With extreme instances, this can even lead to panic attacks.

For these reasons, treatment programs are always recommended. This help users cope with their mental state and receive support and medical treatment.

For those that are suffering from extreme cases of anxiety, doctors may prescribe additional medication to elevate mood and ease anxiety. This allows the addict to transition more easily through the withdrawal process and increase their chances of overcoming the addiction.

Combatting Methadone Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have been using opioids, you should expect to begin experiencing methadone withdrawal symptoms 12 hours after your last dosage.

A type of opiate substitution therapy, methadone helps to treat addiction by the use of medication-assisted treatment. The methadone allows the body to achieve a similar stimulation as opioids but with more mild effects. At the same time, it helps to curb opioid withdrawal and eliminate the pain of coming off of opioids.

It is important to note that withdrawal symptoms also occur in using methadone. Understanding these symptoms and being prepared to fight them is the best way to overcome your addiction.

There’s no denying that overcoming an addiction has its challenges. But with the right treatment and medication, it’s always possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about the significance of methadone and fighting addition, be sure to explore our website or give us a call at (855) 976- 2092!


[1] Opiate and opioid withdrawal. (2019, March 22). Retrieved from

[2] The methadone fix. (2008, March). Retrieved from

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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