Four Tips for Tapering off Methadone

Recovery from addiction to heroin can be difficult to achieve on your own. There are many people who turn to methadone to help with their withdrawal from the toxic drug. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that methadone isn’t a drug designed to be taken forever. You have to wean yourself from the drug over time in order to be as safe as possible.

When it’s time to stop using methadone, you have to slowly taper down use. This means that steps have to be taken to get your body off of the drug, without causing withdrawal symptoms to occur. The following guide walks you through four things you have to know about tampering down methadone use.

Methadone Dosages Must be Evaluated

Methadone is a medication that needs to be taken on a daily basis in order to be effective. It helps to minimize the withdrawal symptoms you experience when you stop using heroin. Before you can start tapering down your methadone use, the amount that you are taking each day needs to be evaluated. When working with a professional treatment facility, the amount of methadone you are given is closely monitored.

After you have been on methadone for a few weeks, medical professionals will be able to determine if you are ready to start lowering the doses that you take. Stopping methadone use cold turkey isn’t a good idea. It can be dangerous to stop using because you could go through withdrawal symptoms that could lead to a relapse.

The amount of methadone you take each day needs to be gradually decreased. Typically, the amount is decreased by 20% or less every few weeks. This allows your body to have time to adjust to the new doses, without having to deal with nausea, headaches or the other many withdrawal symptoms that occur.

Medication Supplementation is Needed

Once medical professionals feel that you have been able to safely lower the amount of methadone you take daily to safe levels, you will need to start taking a long-acting opioid. The opioid is given in place of the methadone but serves the same purpose the methadone did.

Opioids need to be taken as prescribed. Taking the opioids more frequently or in higher doses can lead to a new addiction. Once you suffer from addiction, you always suffer from it. Nearly 40% of all people who have recovered from addiction end up relapsing. This is due to the temptation to use again. At a professional treatment facility, you don’t self-medicate. You are given the medications that you need to be given when you need to take them. This decreases the likelihood of a new addiction developing and ensures that you are able to stop using methadone as quickly as possible.

Health Monitoring Needs to Take Place

Many side effects can come with methadone use that can be dangerous. Loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting are common. You need to be monitored to make sure that your body doesn’t get depleted of the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Medical professionals at a treatment center keep a vigilant watch on your health at all times. Your temperature, weight and blood pressure will be regularly monitored to ensure that you are always in the best health that you can be. A facility also ensures that you’re able to have access to nourishing foods that can make recovery easier for you. When you are battling an addiction, you often have lethargy that can make it difficult for you to be able to have the drive to do anything for yourself. This means that you may have less drive to cook for yourself or even drink water regularly. Having the help of professionals ensures you stay safe throughout your recovery.

Psychological Care Is Crucial When Tapering Down Methadone Use

Hallucinations, paranoia and depression are also common during methadone use. At a treatment facility, you are able to get help for the mental hurdles that occur with addiction. You’ll be able to talk to a professional about the things that you experience during your recovery and things that happened in your past. Talking about any guilt or hurt you have can help you to get a better grip on your emotions, which can make tapering down your methadone use easier. People often do things out of character when they are high. Once they get sober, the guilt can be crushing because they feel that they will never be able to regain the trust they once had.

Since depression is common with people who are in recovery, psychological care can be crucial. If you have thoughts of suicide, talking to someone who can help could actually save your life. The counselor can also help you to determine what your triggers might be to use again when you get out. They can help you determine why you started using in the first place to decrease the chances of you using again.

Mastering Tapering from Methadone Takes Time

After a few weeks of being on the opioids, the medical staff can help you lower the doses that you take. Eventually, you get to the point where you no longer physically need to take anything to battle your addiction. That doesn’t mean the work is done though.

It’s important to know that once you have an addiction you will always be susceptible to it. Many facilities have outpatient programs available for their clients. They allow you to go to regular group meetings with others who are going through the same struggles as you. You can get advice from others and even bounce ideas off of one another about how to stay clean.

Surrounding yourself with people who love you; Avoiding those who still use drugs is the best way to stay clean. Once you have gone through the struggles of recovering from your addiction, the last thing you want to do is relapse. Keeping yourself out of situations that could lead to relapse is the best way to do it. It will not always be easy, but through hard work and dedication, sobriety is possible.

Physical effects of methadone use

The Effects of Methadone on the Body

In the US, the government is always battling with opioid overdose crisis. So, how many die from opioids each year? According to NIDA, about 130 people die every day due to this problem.

That’s serious, right?

The misuse of opioids affects the public health and economic welfare of the country. One of the opiates that people commonly misuse is methadone. This drug is available in different brands, including Methadose, Diskets, and Dolophine.

It’s used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Doctors can also prescribe it to treat narcotic addiction.

Sadly, some patients misuse their methadone prescription for a variety of reasons. This affects them and their health in different ways. For that reason. This post is going to cover the possible effects of methadone.

What’s Methadone?

Methadone is prescription medication use in the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program to help patients with opiate addiction. The dose usually starts at 10 or 20 mg and adjusted in 10-mg increments.

German doctors created this medication during World War II. When it finally arrived in the US, doctors used it to treat patients with severe pain. Today, patients can use it to manage addiction to heroin and narcotic painkillers.

When taken as prescribed by your doctor, use of methadone medication is safe and effective. For patients with addiction, it works effectively if used together with comprehensive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, which includes social support and counseling.

How Does it Work?

Doctors say this drug works like morphine, but its effects of methadone on the body are slower. Patients can take it as a tablet, powder or liquid.

It works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. This makes you feel relief. Methadone blocks the euphoric effects of opiate drugs, such as codeine and heroin. It also lessens the withdrawal symptoms of opiate.

The pain relief from this drug lasts for about eight to 12 hours. Studies have shown that methadone is effective in higher doses, particularly for those patients with heroin addiction.

How Patients Misuse Methadone

Methadone is an effective treatment for suppressing cravings and reducing pain. That’s the factor that makes it risky. This makes it an agonist.

First, it’s has a long-term treatment period, usually a year or more. This makes it easier for patients to become dependent on it. Its highly addictive nature makes patients ignore other treatment options in favor of it.

Some people take it illegally. For example, some HIV patients can inject it into their body.

What Are the Effects of Methadone?

The effects are wide and varied as they depend on the individual’s body.

Those who are taking methadone as a prescription can experience side-effects, especially during the first phase of their methadone treatment.

  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Irregular sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Dependency
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Sleep problems
  • Cognitive changes
  • Harmful drug interactions
  • Fatigue

It is also important to note that these side-effects are less likely if methadone is taken as prescribed – at a therapeutic dose.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reaction to methadone is rare. However, patients are encouraged to see a doctor if they experience symptoms of allergy such as:

  • Rash
  • Itching and swelling
  • Severe dizziness
  • Trouble breathing

If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one, be sure to get medical attention.

Drug Interactions

You’re likely to experience certain effects of the medicine and possibly even methadone interactions with other drugs. During your medical appointment, your doctor will want to know all the drugs (prescription and non-prescription) and supplements you are currently using.

Interactions can change the action of one or both drugs. Common symptoms include drowsiness and stomach aches.

Effects of an Overdose

Some patients may take more of their medication to get quicker results or maintain the relief the medication offers. This could result in an overdose. When you overdose, the possible symptoms include:

  • Twitching muscles
  • Cyanosis (bluish fingernails and lips)
  • Coma
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing

Methadone Addiction

If you use the drug without any medical supervision or guidance, you’re likely to develop an addiction to methadone. This is viewed as a severe psychiatric disorder, and you’re likely to experience moderate to severe symptoms.

Addiction can lead to several physical effects such as poor self-care and hygiene. Addicts will share needs when injecting methadone and other drugs, which increases the chances of contracting a blood-borne disease like hepatitis or HIV.

Those who combine methadone addiction with other illicit drugs risk suffering from organ damage and long-term health issues. These can be brain damage, cardiovascular system damage, hypertension, and liver damage.

Withdrawal Treatment

If you’re suffering from methadone addiction, you don’t need to give it to the temptations and its relief. Withdrawal and addiction treatment can help you regain control of your health and improve your lifestyle.

Treatment usually involves reducing your daily dose. If your dose is 40 mg, you can start dropping it down by 3 mg. When you get to 20, drop it by 2 mg. Continue this until you get to 5 mg a day.

These steps ensure a slow but comfortable withdrawal process without resulting in severe withdrawal symptoms. Of course, you’ll experience some symptoms after withdrawing.

Effects of Methadone – The Takeaway

Methadone is an opiate medication for people who have developed opiate use disorders. Fortunately, when methadone program requirements are followed and medication is taken as prescribed, it can be a huge help in recovering your life after addiction.

If you’re short on time and looking for help contact (855) 976-2092.

Do you have any questions or thoughts about the effects and risks of methadone addiction? Free to share them with us in the comments section below.


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from

[2] Methadone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2018, March 15). Retrieved from

[3] Hilke Jungen, Hilke Andresen-Streichert, Alexander Müller, Stefanie Iwersen-Bergmann; Monitoring Intravenous Abuse of Methadone or Buprenorphine in Opiate Maintenance Treatment (OMT): A Simple and Fast LC–MS-MS Method for the Detection of Disaccharides in Urine Samples, Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Volume 41, Issue 1, 1 January 2017, Pages 22–31,