Methadone Withdrawal and Detox Symptoms Timeline (INFOGRAPHIC)

What happens in the days and weeks after you quit methadone? Find out here. A visual guide of methadone withdrawal symptoms and the TIME OF THEIR APPEARANCE.

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minute read

What Is Methadone Withdrawal?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to treat pain as well as addiction. However, methadone is a psychoactive drugs. It has been scheduled as Class II drug by the Controlled Substance Act. Moreover, it can be a habit forming drug that can lead to addiction.

While people who become dependent on methadone MAY NOT be addicted to it…dependence comes with some really nasty side effects. For example, when the methadone dose is lowered or if you quit methadone completely after a period of regular, daily dosing… you may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone Withdrawal and Detox Symptoms Timeline (INFOGRAPHIC)

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So, when does methadone withdrawal start?

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What are the symptoms of methadone withdrawal?

When do specific symptoms occur during the withdrawal process?

Explore our visual guide below for the answers. We’ve created a timetable of when you can expect symptoms of methadone withdrawal to happen…and outline the process from beginning to end. And, if you like it, feel free to print it out for an office wall, or in your clinic. Or, if you’d like to share this methadone infographic on your website, the embeded code is right below the infographic.

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

Q: What is methadone withdrawal?

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A: It is a set of symptoms that you may undergo if you lower the daily dose or totally quit methadone when you are drug-dependent.

Generally speaking, methadone withdrawal starts when the last dose’s effects fade away. The withdrawal symptoms may manifest three days after dose reduction, and could last 7-10 days. BUT, some users experience longer withdrawal. Keep in mind that methadone withdrawal is best managed under medical supervision.

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Below is a list of all symptoms of methadone withdrawal with a timeframe of their occurrence:

0-72 hours after last methadone intake:

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  • Abdominal cramps
  • Agitation
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sleep disorders

3-7 days after last methadone dose:

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Face paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

Week 2 Methadone Withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disorders

Week 3 Methadone Withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Cravings stabilization
  • Depression
  • Feeling better
  • Irritability

How Long Does Methadone Withdrawal Last?

The period of methadone withdrawal symptoms may last from a week up to few months. It all depends on a person’s individual factors. The factors that contribute to the length or duration of any methadone withdrawal case include:

  • the general health of the individual
  • frequency of methadone use
  • amount of methadone dosage
  • level of methadone dependence

All of these factors influence the length of methadone withdrawal. In general, the longer you’ve been using methadone or the higher the doses, the longer the withdrawal will be,

Moreover, long-term users may also experience post acute symptoms of methadone withdrawal:

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  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disorders

Once you have battled the physical symptoms of methadone withdrawal, you may have to deal with psychological symptoms such as cravings, anxiety, and/or depression. Because of this, the safest way to end methadone is to enroll into rehab program that includes a supervised medical detox.

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline Questions

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Got questions? Please, feel free to post them in the comments section below. We try to respond to all legitimate inquiries ASAP.

Reference sources: NCBI: Methadone withdrawal psychosis
NCBI: Methadone at tapered doses for the management of opioid withdrawal
SAMHSA: Abrupt Withdrawal from Pain Medications — Information and Caution
NHTSA: Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets – Methadone
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

10 Comments

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  1. Has anyone tryed leaving methadone for suboxone, and if so, is it still like hell fire getting off it as well? Thanks in advance.
    By the way, I am a little over a week off methadone and I am still miserable. The inability for my legs to operate normally is the worst.

    1. Hey Nick. Replacing one substance with another doesn’t solve the problem. I suggest you consult with a doctor or consider treatment. Call the helpline you see on the website and speak with a trusted consultant.

    2. Dear Nick,

      We are constantly receiving calls from patients who have become prisoners of maintenance drugs like Suboxone and methadone. Because both of these drugs have such long half-lives, the withdrawal symptoms associated with them can last weeks and sometimes months. The good news is that you have been off opiates (methadone) for a week, so you are way ahead of the game.
      If we received a call from someone in your situation, we would most likely proceed with a one-day hospitalization to blunt the withdrawal symptoms and maybe help speed the detox, followed by a week at our recovery center so the medical director could help with supportive non-opioid medication through the recovery phase. My opinion is that you are on your way to freedom. Returning to an opioid will just delay you from being opiate free.

  2. I had a sister that died from taking a leathal dose. She was not informed about all the dangers of what happens when you take this medicine. She only was aware that you couldn’t take a couple of doeses in a day. Just one. She was not a opiate user at all. I have been taking methadone for over 2 years. I left my medicine there and thought nothing of it being bothered or stolen. She was in severe back pain the day when she took some. Not being aware that she took some I found out after the fact. She told me and said she thought I wouldn’t mind. Of course I was not upset with her I just wish she would have asked me first so I could have known how much she took. I loved my sister more than life itself and would have done anything for her. For her to go in my medicine box without asking I knew she had to have been in severe pain. She has never asked me over the years I have had it. I also take it for severe chronic back pain from breaking my whole entire back 8 years ago. Anyways, it was Fri at around noon when she admitted she had taken some. She told me it was only just a dime size dose that she took and promised me that was all she took. So I of course believed her. She seemed to be ok until 8 am the next morning which was Saturday. So that was suposovly 16 hours until symptoms were starting to show. I thought like she had told me it was just a tiny, tiny bit. So I couldn’t wake her up or revive her for 3 to 4 mins. I had no clue that she was overdosing. She was sitting in a recliner near a window that was near a generator. It was during a hurricane when this nightmare began. So me thinking she told me that she had taken the smallest amount ever my mind went to thinking maybe it was carbon monoxide poisoning…. The symptoms are very much alike and I had no reason to believe my sister had lied to me about the amount of medicine she had really taken. So it never even dawned on me she was in distress about the methadone. Anyways, we finally get her outside where she could breathe and she got a little better by the time the paramedics got there which this time they were there in 12 mins. So they give her oxygen and ask a bunch of questions. They were thinking it was the generator to being that it was so close to her. She goes to the er and gets there say at 845am. They do all kinds of tests she admits to taking some methadone that wasn’t hers. Her husband went with her so I don’t know how much she admitted to taking. Her blood was cleared for not having any poisonous gas so that wasn’t it. She had some things show up on some tests they ran like ct scans and other things. They said it wasn’t something serious that they needed her to deal with now or be admitted. So this is what baffles me…. They sent her home knowing she had taken a narcotic that wasn’t hers. They didn’t do a urinalysis or check the levels of medicine in her blood to to check it out. All the symptoms that she had was now that I have read and know what methadone withdrawal looks like they let her go home. After finding out it wasn’t the generator that was making her act strange they simply said she should be fine and the spots they found in her lungs could wait until she saw a doctor outside the er. So she gets home around 4pm. I left because the hurricane had already moved on…. Anyways, I was woken up Sunday morning by a phone call from my dad around 9am. My sister died that night. She could not breathe and her husband slept on the couch where as my youngest boy slept with her. He had to come out screaming to his dad that he couldn’t get his mommy to wake up. They were not trained in cpr but tried everything they could but her lips were blue so she had been not breathing for a while I guess. So how does a hospital let you go when your clearly in the process of dying? It was just interrupted by me luckily waking her up Saturday morning at 8am because she was breathing funny and it sounded very labored. I’m so upset I missed the warning signs. I just couldn’t believe it was her overdosing because she had promised me that it was such a small dose a ant would have drowned in it. Like if you had a medicine dropper it would be just a small squirt. I would have never had thought she took a swig like if you were taking a shot. My bottles had 80 mlgs in each bottle. The autopsy examiner said it was a leathal dose. Meaning she took maybe 50 mlg. A first time user definitely cannot take that much. I had no clue until I went in my medicine box and found about what the examiner said. I was and still am devastated. This time when they called the ems it took them 50mins to get there. The day before it was only 12 mins. I think hospitals should be held responsible for some of this tragedy. It could have been prevented if they would have given her narocan. It wouldn’t have hurt her if that wasn’t what it was but it was and they sent a 46 year old mother of 3 to go home and die. They had no reason to believe that they were going to be anymore problems. Now I have the guilt of having that medicine there. If I would have stayed home she would be alive today. Another thing I wanted to say about the hospital. The spots they saw…. It was acute pneumonia. That is the reason she was hurting in the first place and wanted something to relieve her terrible pain that was hurting her back so badly. I’m so sad, mad, depressed and don’t know what to do with this… I feel like there should be some people who if they have a similar story like mine to go and spread the word and advocate for people who don’t know the dangers of what some pain meds can do to you. They also need to know that they have every right to tell the doctor to run tests on you until something gets resolved or definitely make sure your not being sent home to die. My sister had so much more to do and to offer life. I want to make sure no one else has to ever endure this much pain, when it could have been easily taken care of…. Please let me know if you want to get in a mission of trying to save lives if we can. My heart will be broken forever…. I want to at least try and redeem myself and if I can help others…. Thanks for listening…..

  3. Has anyone ever experience smelling nonexisting items, ie, smoke from cigarettes? I am at day 10 of a medically supported withdrawal from Methadone after seven years at a dose of 50 mg/day.
    Thank you in advance for any answers.

  4. I was kicked off cold turkey at 320mg and been 2weeks and my ankle will lock up and I drop to floor screaming. First week I sleep on couch butvwake up on the floor. Mind you I’ve been on methadone 11yrs. We’re going on 3rd week and I can’t tell you how I feel. We’ll keep it at anger.

  5. Methadone withdrawal does not have to be this lengthy or brutal anymore. It is amazing how many patients we see that are pleasantly surprised to find out they can come off methadone in a hospital under anesthesia.

  6. Hi, I have been on Methadone for 14 years. 100 Mlgs. for 5 years been going down slowly ,,I mean slowly since then I am on 74 now. The Methadone clinic where I go does not really push stopping or coming down or off. I am one of many in my shoes here. I only ever took pain medication and took it legally but the doctor gave me to much and I was suggested Methadone I wish I hadnt started it. I live in the south in NC to be exact (Western NC) we had a therapist from up north somewhere came in and couldnt believe I had been there so long and hadnt been told to come down I know others whom have been there 22 to 25 years on same dosage. What would you think as someone not linked to my clinic or doctor or in it for business advantages think I should come down or do.
    Thank you for your time.
    Jeremiah from western NC

  7. Hi, I have been weaning off of methadone for 5 months. I went from 20mg and am currently at .5 mg. I am wondering if I can just jump off of it now, or if I need to bring it down to closer to nothing. My withdrawals over the past months have been moderate, and tolerated with a lot of help from other pharmaceuticals. My doctor gave me xanax, clonidine, tizanidine. my biggest issues have been RLS and insomnia. Any advice for the last .5mg?

    1. Hi Kathy. The last dose is the hardest to quit… I suggest that you bring it down closer to nothing.

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