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Methadone: Detox and Withdrawal Process

Detoxing from methadone is widely regarded as one of the most difficult detoxifying processes.

Methadone Withdrawal

Typically, withdrawal symptoms experienced from physical dependency on a drug are the opposites of the side effects those drugs produce.

Methadone Side Effects:

Methadone Withdrawal Side Effects:





Pain Relief

Muscle Aches

Physical Cramping

Pain from Injuries to Return



Constant Cravings

Methadone Detoxification

To ease the discomfort of methadone detox, buprenorphine–the active ingredient in Suboxone and Subutex—is used. Buprenorphine is FDA approved for the treatment of opiate addiction and is a partial agonist, meaning it does not produce the same euphoric sensation of full agonists like methadone, morphine, heroin, and other opiates—making the risk of abuse much lower. In addition to a diminished risk of abuse, buprenorphine (including Suboxone and Subutex) are less tolerance building, less addictive, and easier to discontinue.

Methadone Detox Process

Buprenorphine methadone detox process involves Suboxone and Subutex and uses a process called buprenorphine therapy, a typical treatment course is as follows:

  • Immediately: Subutex is administered for the first 12 to 24-hours after the user discontinues methadone use

  • After 24 hours: Suboxone is administered following initial Subutex treatment. Suboxone contains naloxone, which is a drug that prevents opiate overdoses and prevents Suboxone from being used improperly

  • Final phase: Typically, buprenorphine therapy is continued for up to 30 days, at which point methadone and opiate cravings should be eliminated

Why Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine dramatically cuts the time it takes to detox from methadone gradually. Without medical assistance, the Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration warns that withdrawal from methadone can take from six months to year.

More Resources

Introduction to Methadone Addiction and Abuse