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How to Detox From Methadone at Home

Methadone can be one of the most difficult drugs to detox from. Why? It’s mostly due to the fact that Methadone has a longer half life than most other opiates. Ergo, it takes your body longer to completely be free from methadone because it occupies your brain’s opiate receptors for a longer period of time. There’s a far more technical explanation for this but that would bore you… and me.

We have thousands of people who have used Withdrawal Ease for methadone detox. However, in order to get the best results, there are some different strategies that need to be employed. In the spirit of articles such as “How to Detox From Opiates” and “How to Detox From Suboxone”, I think those on Methadone deserve a unique detox approach. For many of you on Methadone, it has been a long, long road and it doesn’t get any easier when you finally decide that it’s time to stop. Or rather, start the “process of stopping.”

As with most of my other posts and “How To’s..”, my sources range from clinical literature, secondary research, and talking to people who are currently on methadone and who have been through methadone detox. Finally, I group all of my feedback from those that have successfully used Withdrawal Ease to help them detox more comfortably and highlight some of the best practices from those folks. From there I form a methodology for detox.

Of course many of the same disclaimers apply:

I’m not a doctor nor am I a licensed addictionologist or therapist. I have gathered a great deal of useful intelligence from those people who have detoxed or are in the process of detoxing from methadone. Please consult your doctor before doing any of this.

It’s also important to note that if you use benzos (Xanax, Clonazepam etc.) to potentiate (make the “high” stronger) your methadone dose then you should detox in a controlled environment under medical supervision. Benzos can cause seizures if detoxed improperly.

I believe we’ve gathered some very valuable insight into how to best use the tools that we have along with tapering to make the detox experience a bit easier for methadone users. I hope that this helps.

As I mentioned, the half life of Methadone is a real doozy. Short of Suboxone, Methadone takes a long time to completely dissipate from the bloodstream. As you may know, the half-life is important because it is a factor in the length of your detox and subsequent withdrawal symptoms.

*Methadone’s half-life is 18-80 hours which is a very wide variance with the higher amount being significantly longer than Vicodin or Percocet (**4-6 hours and 3-4.5 hours respectively). This will give you an appreciation for one of the reasons why Methadone sometimes takes longer to detox and therefore feel like your old self again.

And just to be clear:

Detox/detoxification is the body’s way of expelling a foreign or harmful presence and regaining homeostasis.

Withdrawal is a temporary pathology that includes generally unpleasant physical and mental symptoms as a result of detox.

Those were not definitions out of the Journal of The American Medical Association. They are just how I think of them. The point is that both are influenced by the long half life of methadone. This is why tapering is so critical with Methadone! You must taper when coming off of a high dose of Methadone — period.

You can help yourself if you taper in a coordinated fashion and on-schedule based on a planned tapering calendar. Is it a bit nerdy to keep a calendar? Of course it is, but it will literally mean the difference between being miserable or being functional for your acute detox period. If you have not read our article called “The Art of Tapering”, please take a look at some point to get some tips on the nuances of tapering correctly. Don’t worry about the calendar in The Art of Tapering. We’ll go over an example of what a typical methadone taper program might look like in this article.

Of course, if you have been taking methadone for 10-20 years, it’s certainly a big decision and one that you should certainly make with your doctor. The last thing we want to do is to encourage someone to detox from Methadone only to unwittingly cause them more pain. Most folks on methadone do not take it temporarily so make sure that you’ve got the A-OK from your doctor, pain management specialist or whomever is managing your care. Notice how I didn’t mention the clinic itself! Certainly, if you no longer want to be on methadone — or you no longer think you need it — then you have the right to be off of it. It’s a FREE country. But make sure it’s in your best clinical interest based on a doctor’s input to do so before detoxing.

Ok, that’s pretty clear I hope.

The Detox – Intro to Our Methodology: The 5% Rule!

There’s a lot of different pet theories in the clinical literature, on clinical websites, manufacturer websites, package inserts, drug directories, wikis etc. on how much one should taper per week. Some say reduce your intake from a stable dose by 5mg per week and other say it should be 20mg per week. It’s very confusing and that’s because every person has a different physical makeup and history. So it goes without saying that any taper schedule should just be about YOU.

There are a few other recommendations that make more sense to me due to their personalized nature. Ironically, one strategy that I like is from Mallinckrodt, the current maker of a form of methadone. They suggest the following:

“It is generally suggested that dose reductions should be less than 10% of the established tolerance or maintenance dose, and that 10 to 14-day intervals should elapse between dose reductions.” (source: http://pharmaceuticals.mallinckrodt.com)

However, I believe that starting out at a lower percentage and reducing the time between tapering your doses is more conservative and less likely to cause discomfort. Fourteen days between intervals seems like a long time, so we start out recommending week-long intervals.

This strategy for tapering your dose seems to make much more sense than setting an arbitrary “one-size-fits-all” taper. A percentage of the original tolerated maintenance dose provides an equal platform for all.

For someone who is taking 120mg per day, 5% would be 6mg

For someone who is taking 160mg per day, 5% would be 8mg

The relative drop is still the same for everyone every time one steps down. Does this make sense? The next step down should be 5% of the remaining dose! I repeat, the next step down should be 5% of the previous dose. (See below for an example of this!)

For instance: If you were on 120mg as demonstrated above and you step down 5% (6mg) to 114mg per day, then your next step down will be 5% of 114mg. A running average. If you keep stepping down 6mg per day then the percentage of your step down grows incrementally larger… you don’t want that. As you progress, your steps down will become smaller but will still remain 5% of the total dose.

I know I know, for some of you it may be hard to cut doses into such precise amounts. Remember this is just a guard rail, not an exact science. We’re trying to get you to be as disciplined as possible because we believe it matters. Do the best that you can and round up or down as needed.

Our recommendation is a conservative one and perhaps it seems a bit complicated at first but if you have read The Art of Tapering (link again), you’ll understand that this is just a starting point.

Need A Pharmacist?

It’s important to note at this point that if you do not think you can self monitor your taper accurately then you need to enlist the help of a friend or family member who can act as your “pharmacist.” This person will safeguard your meds and dispense them to you based on your agreed upon taper schedule. They will need to be lenient enough to let you adjust your time between intervals (up to 10 days between intervals) so that you are comfortable throughout the process. However, the mission remains the same: to actively lower the blood concentration of methadone in your body over a fixed period of time as comfortably as possible.

Hopefully your “Pharmacist” can keep you motivated and on schedule at the same time. If you have any doubts about this, we recommend that you play it safe and ask someone to be your “Pharmacist”. You may owe them dinner or a present at the end of all of this but it will be worth it.

An Example of What a Methadone Tapering and Detox Schedule Might Look Like Using “The 5% Rule”!

Step #1: Calculate a 5% decrease of your current, stable dose or prescribed daily dose. As an example, we’ll use 120mg per day. Remember, we are using percentages of your current dose that we assume is a comfortable (as directed) level for you. As you calculate your percentage drops, you will probably see that not all reductions will have round numbers…in these cases, please round up or down as needed.

Step #2: Get a calendar or open up your calendar on your computer and “map-out” your tapering schedule based on the “5% rule” every 7 days. As you can see, I’ve written out the complete formula for all of you math-challenged folks like me!

WEEK 1 = 120mg of Methadone  x .o5 (5%) = 6mg

120mg of Methadone — 6mg = 114mg per day for the first week of the taper

WEEK 2 = 114mg x .05 = 5.7mg

Rounding up 5.7 = 6 (again)

So you would subtract 6mg from 114mg = 108mg of methadone daily for week #2 of your taper

Week 3 = 103mg per day

Week 4 = 98mg per day

And So On…..

If you feel as though you have withdrawal symptoms that are becoming acute or that are particularly bothersome, you can think about adding an extra day between the reductions in dose which will slow the taper down a bit. Try that for a week and see how you feel. If that still produces acute symptoms, then add another day with a max of 10 days between tapering. You need to be as comfortable and functional as possible but you also need to remember that you are engaged in a systematic process of lowering the blood concentration of methadone in your body… so keep on chugging. Detox is never going to be completely painless.

Once you get to the actual detox portion (even though the tapering has detoxed you quite a bit), you will no longer be taking methadone and hopefully the taper process has helped tremendously. You will probably have a few days of feeling lousy and of course I recommend reading our Withdrawal Survival Guide and taking our product to help with this period. I think it was essential that I address the tapering aspect of this process since it is the most complicated and nuanced of all of the drugs minus Suboxone.

If you don’t buy the product or read the Survival Guide then just remember that the discomfort and insomnia will pass shortly and if you have completed your taper, you come a long way towards making your detox a whole lot easier!

A Note To Withdrawal Ease Customers:

If you have bought our Withdrawal Ease product, we often recommend that methadone users begin taking the product a bit earlier on in the tapering process. Normally, we recommend that people start taking Withdrawal Ease about a week before they completely finish their taper. With methadone, the taper is usually longer and the length of time that one’s body has been dependent is usually longer as well. There are a lot of ingredients in Withdrawal Ease that can help with mild withdrawal symptoms that some might feel during the tapering and detox process. We usually leave it up to personal preference but starting Withdrawal Ease a couple weeks or so before you completely stop seems to be the most effective solution.

It’s also important to mention that The Withdrawal Ease Survival Guide is still an integral part of the program and should be employed when the detox begins in earnest (i.e. when you stop taking Methadone completely following your taper). It’s also good simply to follow the advice in the Guide because things like exercise and eating right are always good habits to live by.

That’s our opinion on the best way to detox from Methadone. It may not be perfect but until something better comes along, I think it’s a good way to free yourself from methadone — if that’s what you wish to do!

Thanks for reading this and I hope that it helps people who truly want to quit but do not know how. If you have any feedback on this article please email us at info@withdrawal-ease.com!

 

Sincerely,

—George

 

Source(s):

* aaiPharma, Inc. Methadone hydrochloride injection prescribing information. Wilmington, NC. 2004 Feb.

**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicodin

***http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicodin

 

 

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Comments

  1. Thank you! This is what I have been on for almost 3 years anywhere from 80-150mg/day. So this is good info and I’m glad I found it becuz I knew methadone was different. And I do take Xanax but not for the high I don’t mix it… I take it for my anxiety surrounding my daughter’s death, but will come off that as well hopefully… I had never had anxiety until she died!

  2. i have a very unique situation im in regarding methadone. i live in louisiana and was 110mgs for years.well when hurricane katrina hit my pain management doctor left never to return. i went a week with no methadone. finally i found a doctor who would Rx me methadone but only at 60mgs a day. as far as withdrawl or anything goes im fine but i am in SO MUCH PHYSICAL BACK PAIN that methadone simply does not help. lortab 10mg worked better! i read the 5% rule and im sure i can do this with the help of a family member “pharmacist” doling them out to me. But my question is,with the long half life,it getting into your marrow etc,will it EVER be out of my system so i could possibly go back to an opiate that works on my pain? Or am i screwed forever? IVE been on methadone for 11 years. please help me with this question as doctors and pharmacists cannot. Thank you!

    • Hi Bob. Wow that really stinks and it happens to so many people. They just get cut off and are left to deal with horrible withdrawal symptoms. Methadone does have a long half-life but if you are off of it for long enough and get through the detox, you should be fine. I’ve never heard of any issue with “bone marrow”. Once you have been off of methadone, you will always have a tolerance to opiates but not as much as when you are taking them. I’ve never been a big fan of methadone for pain control but some doctors like it. It could also be very very possible that drugs like Vicodin (or Norco as you mention) could simply be more effective for your type of pain and your particular situation.

      If you have terrible pain, you may just talk to your doctor and see if they might recommend an alternative to methadone. I don’t see why you have to go through detox and then get on another pain medication. If you tell your doctor that Vicodin works better than methadone, I’m sure they would be happier prescribing that.

  3. I’m in the process of detoxing from methadone. I’ve been on it for two years and want my life back. I started tapering in January and got down to .25mg. February 27 I took my last dose at 5am. This is almost day four and I can not sleep. I take withdrawal ease and been trying to follow the survival guide except I haven’t been out of the house. I feel like it’s never going to get better. Am I almost out of the woods?

    • Hi Cooper. I hope that this reply finds you well and getting better by the day. If you still have not taken any methadone then you are most certainly beyond the point of turning back. You will begin to feel slight improvements each day; this includes length and quality of sleep. Just hang in there and take it day by day. I would highly encourage you to get out of the house; it’s one of the main strategies for a more comfortable detox

  4. Hi, George. Wow, this is a very impressive site with TONS of useful information. Thank you!

    My question is as far as tapering off methadone, once you get down to 10 mg. of methadone, would you recommend spending a week at 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then off? I am fortunate (if one can consider being a drug addict “fortunate”) that I am starting at about 35 mg. of methadone, so don’t have that far to go, but limited funds and am anxious to “get it over with” ASAP. I do want to adhere to your advice to take the taper slowly and will do it as slowly as I can, funds and supply allowing.

    Thanks for your help.

    Mari

    • hi love, I am a 37 year old ex addict and have reduced from 90 mg methadone 10 mg every 4 weeks till I got to 50 mg then decided on reducing 5 mg every 4 weeks, I am now at 35 mg and would also be very interested in what the answer would be to your question as I have the same worries, you like myself have probably seen friends come off 3 mg and the withdrawals are as bad as coming off 90mg so I hope our now joint question can be helped especially as I know a friend that sent away for this treatment which after 3 days went in the bin as they didn’t work at all!

  5. Hello George!
    I have been on methadone for almost 15 years now. Other opiates have supplemented the methadone for break through pain relief but the methadone has been a constant to help deal with chronic pain issues. Fortunately the pain issue has subsided but alas, the methadone is still here! I have tried two separate attempts at a hospital detox program, 6 and 8 years ago respectively, both times I found myself back at the hospital emergency room three days after discharge because of dehydration due to going into agonizing, full blown withdrawal. Those experiences with withdrawal have so traumatized me I thought living the rest of my life taking methadone a lesser evil. It has taken this long to get to a point where I feel getting off methadone is worth another shot. Something “clicked” and I know I need to be free of this literal enslavement to a drug! And, yes, I am scared to death of having to experience full blown withdrawal again. Working with an amazing doctor I have tapered down over the past two years and have been at 5mg for the past 8 months. I’ve been able to be at 2 1/2mg for a couple of weeks then start to feel sick and I go back to 5mg.He has informed me about PAWS (post acute withdrawal syndrome) which is disheartening and is why I’ve been procrastinating stopping the methadone completely.
    But now……I’ve come across your site and it has given me such courage & hope! Reading all the genuine testimonials has been key to my believing this product of yours will work. I’m also really impressed to see how many of the questions/comments have been answered by George, that’s dedication. Reading through the different articles you have on your site I had a light bulb moment and want to know George’s opinion, as well as others, to what occurred to me:
    Methadone has the longest half life, other than Suboxone. What if over say, a month, one switched from 5mg methadone to a comparable dose of a shorter acting opiate like hydracodone, which has a much shorter half life. Taper down a bit more on that, begin the Withdrawal-Ease for a week then stopped the opiates completely. Do you think that would work to reduce the length of acute and post acute withdrawal time and severity?
    No matter what the answer is I intend to get two months of the Withdrawal Ease and finally do this! I want my life back! I read that statement a lot here and it’s such a precious thing to have.
    Thank you for coming up with a much needed product! Odd that with all the money drug companies have for research and development no one has come up with anything to help with this rampant problem in our society today! So, cheers George and thank you again in advance!
    Be well,
    Terry
    15 January 2015

  6. my friend you are quite obviously trying to sell us a product that my friend bought from you, his name Alex McCarthy you can check this up for yourself from your sent out prescribed chart or whatever that doesn’t help or work!!, is this not falsifying information?, also I know this post won’t see the light of day, this is why u have to check comments are all good showing none of the truth of it all, how many comments have you discarded due to this same content I am now sending. these are peoples lives my friend this isn’t a joke or a money making scheme/scam.I will be reporting this to the relevant people to have them stop u further trying to make money off the poorest and dsperate

    • Hi Shauna. Please don’t call me your friend. My sales records go back roughly 2 years (the rest are filed on backup disks). Over the past 2 years I have NEVER sold any product to an Alex McCarthy. And if your “friend” was so displeased with the product, I would have liked to hear from him about his experience; typically I make things right when someone follows the program.

      I published every single one of your comments because I think the context is important in this case. You posted 3 comments within the span of 16 minutes; all completely separate, rambling topics. You ask me for advice on your methadone tapering, then you accuse us of being charlatans and criminals after which you ask for the ingredients in the product??!. I’m sorry if you’re just a troubled person Shauna but your comments are absolutely insane, offensive and use such tired logic.

      And, please don’t give me the pathetic line about “helpless addicts” because that’s such a cop out. I was completely hooked on prescription painkillers and I was not helpless. But that is a typical addict attitude that drives me up the wall: “woe is me, everyone controls what happens to me except me”. People who want to get well either do it or they don’t. Are many of my customers desperate; you bet they are! A lot of these folks are going through withdrawal which is horrible. I’m sorry that I cannot do more but I can’t.

      For $89 you get a 65 page Guide that is all original content as well as a nutritional supplement system that has ingredients that have demonstrated efficacy in clinical journals. If you follow the instructions, taper and take the product you WILL have a much easier time detoxing. That’s not worth $89 dollars? You can’t even get a brochure for a rehab for $89! Am I able to detox for your mythical friend “Alex McCarthy”? No, I cannot. but please don’t suggest that by selling this product, I am preying on “Alex” or anyone else for that matter. Our claims are clear and transparent; if you want help detoxing from opiates, we have something that can help. If you don’t want help or if you do not want Withdrawal Ease, you don’t have to buy it.

      So I’ve called your bluff Shauna. I DO post these negative comments when I get them and when I think they contribute to a dialogue worth reading. Your comments do not accomplish that but it’s easy to sit behind your keyboard and say whatever you want, lie whenever you want and offend whomever you want because…after all, it’s just the internet. You’re absolutely 100% full of it.

  7. what is in withdrawal ease?

  8. Of all the research Ive been doing it seems to me that withdraw ease will be the best for me in my tapering from methadone. I am VERY scared of withdraw symptoms but my gut is telling me this product will work along with some vitamins. Hopefully this detox wont be too bad since ive been on meth for only 9months. My highest dose was 45 and that was to sedating for me so im coming down from 40 trying the “percentage” method. When i get to 5mg, Ill post my feelings/symptoms then start the withdrawease and post the results. I was thinking of trying the method “Terry” posted of swithching from meth to a slower ‘halflife’ like hydrocodone when i get to 5mg then starting “W/E”.(if i can get my dr. to prescribe me hydrocodone cuz she doesnt know im on meth i havent had the curage to tell her ‘yet’) Anyway thanks George for your product and forthe imediate response that I received when I emailed you. It made me feel really comfortable with trying your product knowing that you will be there to walk me through with any questions or problems that may arise in my road to recovery…
    Goodluck to myself and all addicts trying to recover. Having God/HigherPower in your life along with George/WithdrawEase we will succeed. God bless everyone!!!

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