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Information on Methadone, its Detox and Rehabilitation

Last updated on: Friday, 15 September 2023
  • What You'll Learn

Methadone is a powerful drug that is commonly used to treat opioid dependence. Unfortunately, it can lead to dependency and addiction, so it is not uncommon to seek methadone detox or rehab. Coming off methadone is a long process and generally requires medical detox with rehabilitation. DRS has a list of medically supervised detox options.


How To Help Someone Stop Using Methadone

Most methadone users began taking the drug to avoid heroin use or other opioids. Unfortunately, it is common for methadone maintenance to last a long time, which means the individual becomes physically dependent.

Stopping the use of methadone requires slowly tapering off the drug with medical guidance and a medical detox to manage painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If methadone maintenance was initially combined with rehabilitation, medical detox is likely the only option needed. However, this is not always the case. It is common for many heroin addicts to be placed on methadone without receiving any drug rehabilitation.

Helping someone stop using methadone requires the following:

  • Medically supervised detox and withdrawal management
  • Inpatient or outpatient drug rehabilitation, depending on addiction history and severity
  • Aftercare support such as 12-step meetings or sober living homes

Our experts recommend a well-rounded approach and taking the time to successfully detox from methadone and address underlying issues connected to the addiction.

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Ask a Professional

  • What type of drug is Methadone?

    Methadone is a prescription synthetic opioid medication used to treat severe, chronic pain. It’s also given to people recovering from opioid addiction to help them get off illicit opioids or as a long-term substitute for more dangerous opioids. But that doesn’t mean Methadone is safe. The drug is still potent and addictive and kills many people yearly due to overdose.

  • What does Methadone look like?

    Methadone usually takes on two primary forms: pills or liquid. In pill form, Methadone is usually a white, oblong tablet, but it can also be in the form of a round tablet or a wafer. Liquid Methadone is most commonly administered in a clinical setting where the drug is given to people previously on illicit opioids like heroin. Known as a Methadone clinic, the substance is often found in a red syrup that resembles cough medicine.

  • How long does Methadone stay in your system?

    Methadone stays in the system longer than most opioids and can be detected in the urine for as much as two weeks. It can be detectable even longer than two weeks for people who take higher doses of Methadone and have been on the drug long-term. For this reason and the drug’s long-term health effects, Methadone clinics have spurred controversy about the efficacy and morality of medication-centric approaches.

  • Why is Methadone so addictive?

    Methadone was created as a pain reliever and has the same addictive properties as other opiates. Furthermore, Methadone is given to many patients as a means to get them off other opiates, so many people taking Methadone already have a dependency when they begin taking it. Once one starts to take the drug, tolerance develops rapidly as the drug slowly accumulates in the bloodstream. Methadone takes a long time to leave the system, and with regular use, dependence occurs. Methadone can be more difficult to quit than many other opioids due to severe withdrawal that can last for weeks.

  • How is Methadone used?

    Methadone is primarily ingested orally as a pill or liquid. However, when the drug is abused illicitly, it’s often injected. IV Methadone use presents the same risks as other IV drug use. The drug is notorious for combining poorly with other depressant substances and causing overdose and death.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from Addicted.org’s “Learn from our Experts” are answered by Michael Leach, CCMA. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at mike@addicted.org.

Common Terminology Surrounding Methadone

a class of drugs derived from opium (poppy plant), it also includes drugs that produce similar physiological effects than opium (such as pain relief).
Opioid receptors
a set of receptors in the brain that control pain signaling. When an opioid such as methadone is taken, the drug binds to these receptors, telling them to slow down or stop the pain signals. They are also responsible for addictive behavior, so methadone and other opioids have a high potential for abuse.
Schedule II drug
a drug classification that means that, even though it is accepted for medical use in the U.S., the drug has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Methadone is a Schedule II drug.
Methadone overdose
when a person takes too much methadone or when methadone is mixed with other substances and can lead to coma and death in severe cases.
Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT)
a long-term prescription of methadone to combat another opioid addiction.
Opioid agonist
a drug or substance binds to opioid receptors in the brain and causes the same action as the opioids that normally bind to those receptors.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.



More Information

Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.