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Methadone Withdrawal: What You Need to Know BAART Norwood, Sacramento

Methadone withdrawal may be a misunderstood issue for people who are ready to quit opioid addiction. Methadone treatment in a supportive environment is not trading one addiction for another. Methadone maintenance for recovering opioid addicts is a lot like insulin for diabetics. However, even though it is safe and effective for long-term use, some people want to stop taking methadone for a number of reasons. We’ll explain the process of tapering off methadone to help avoid methadone withdrawal. First, it’s important to understand the success of using methadone medication-assisted treatment to end the destructive cycle of opioid addiction.

According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine¹,

“Methadone treatment for narcotic addiction was originally researched during the 1960’s. In the intervening 40 years, methadone has come to be recognized as the standard care for opiate addiction. Detoxifications and drug free modalities, although appealing to an understandable desire for recovery without medications, produces only 5-10% success rate. Methadone maintenance is associated with success rates ranging from 60 – 90%. The longer the people are in this modality the greater their chances are of achieving stable long-term abstinence.”


Medication-assisted treatment, not methadone withdrawal

When you go into medication-assisted treatment, methadone stabilizes your body to manage the withdrawal symptoms from opioids like painkillers or heroin. A medical professional monitors your progress through the opioid withdrawal, and then you begin methadone maintenance to keep your body stable. At this point, the counseling portion of treatment is extremely important. The psychological addiction to opiates is very strong. Counseling and support helps you understand where you’ve been, and help you move forward to a new life.


Your successful new life without drugs

In counseling, you learn about staying focused on your goal. Success builds on success as you work your program in recovery. At some point, you may decide that you want to taper off of methadone. You don’t have to do this, but it may be a personal preference. When you’re part of a program, methadone withdrawal is less common because you have support every step of the way. Your counselor will work closely with you to taper off your methadone dosage. The counselor considers factors such as:


  • How long you have been in the program
  • How much methadone you take
  • Your physical condition – health, fitness, biochemistry
  • Your short-term and long-term goals


Like everything you do in medication-assisted treatment, you’re not alone. Your counselor will help you taper slowly for the greatest success.


Take responsibility for your recovery

Your attitude about recovery and what you want plays a significant role in your success.  There are several things that you can do while you’re in recovery and if you are tapering off methadone:


  • Get exercise and get in good physical condition – Let your body produce the feel-good hormones. Exercise naturally helps reduce anxiety, even if you just start out walking.
  • Eat a healthy diet – Consider supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Also, get plenty of good fats such as avocados, nuts, or salmon.
  • Drink a lot of water – Water keeps you hydrated, aids digestion, and helps you better absorb nutrients from your food.


You can have a successful recovery when you seek help. If you live in the Sacramento area, BAART Norwood is a resource. If not, BAART has medication-assisted treatment programs all across California.

¹Methadone Treatment Issues. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.csam-asam.org/methadone-treatment-issues

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