Methadone is an opioid that is commonly used to treat severe pain. It is also used to help people who struggle with narcotic opioid addiction (such as heroin or fentanyl) manage withdrawal symptoms. Even when used as directed, methadone can quickly lead to dependence. This article will provide an overview of methadone treatment options, including how to get off methadone and what to expect from methadone rehab.
This article is geared toward people who were prescribed methadone to manage severe pain and who have consequently developed dependence. It will not cover information for people who want to learn about methadone maintenance therapy as a treatment option for opioid use disorders.
Addiction Treatment Options
The process of getting off methadone is relatively simple, but it may not be easy. Most successful treatment approaches have patients taper off methadone to lessen withdrawal symptoms, which can be uncomfortable. Regardless of the treatment you choose, it is important that you discuss your plans with a medical professional before you begin.
People who are struggling with moderate to severe methadone dependence are candidates for medically assisted detox. Methadone has a long half-life, ranging from 8–59 hours with an average of about 25 hours. Because of this long half-life, the detoxification period can persist for well over a week for heavy users.
During the detox period, clients can expect to be challenged with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Many people in recovery from methadone use disorder believe the detox and withdrawal period feels like a very bad flu. Medical detox is beneficial because medical professionals can administer treatment and help relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Residential rehab can be incredibly valuable in the early days of recovery. It is important to avoid triggers and resist cravings, and residential centers can help people get through some of the most difficult days of recovery.
Although some residential rehab facilities are also methadone clinics, there are important differences between residential centers and methadone treatment centers. The goal of residential rehab is to provide a live-in rehab site that includes 24/7 access to medical professionals. The goal of a methadone clinic is to provide people with methadone in order to manage opioid addiction withdrawal.
People with mild to moderate methadone dependency issues are candidates for outpatient rehab. Outpatient programs range from intensive daily programs to weekly hour-long sessions. Outpatient clients have access to medical professionals who can develop tapering schedules and address questions and concerns that patients may have.
Outpatient rehab programs that serve people with methadone use disorder are different from outpatient methadone clinics. Walk-in methadone clinics provide daily doses of methadone for people who are facing heroin or fentanyl addiction. Methadone is an effective way to manage heroin withdrawal symptoms and can provide people with a way to reintegrate into society. Outpatient methadone rehab programs help people recover from methadone dependence or addiction.
Many people who struggle with substance use disorders have underlying mental health issues that were never diagnosed or properly treated. Many quality rehab centers have multidisciplinary teams that can evaluate whether a dual diagnosis is appropriate. For people who used drugs to help with undiagnosed anxiety or depressive disorders, a dual diagnosis can change their lives for the better.
Aftercare and Sober Living
Successful recovery from a substance use disorder usually requires frequent maintenance and a dedication to sober living. Aftercare programs are often offered by quality rehab centers. The goal of aftercare is to provide ongoing support and education for people who have completed early recovery. Aftercare often gives people in recovery positive outlets and strong social networks that replace old habits and hobbies.
Aftercare can take many forms, including:
- Individual and group therapy sessions
- Group activities
- Educational programs
- Case management
- Relapse prevention
Aftercare programs for methadone use disorders are different from methadone maintenance programs. Methadone maintenance therapy is designed to help manage heroin withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.
How Long Does Rehab Take?
The amount of time spent in rehab for methadone use disorder varies. People with mild dependency may spend just a few hours a week in contact with their rehab staff. People who have used methadone heavily for a long time may start with a couple of weeks in a residential facility before transitioning to an intensive outpatient setting.
Acute methadone detox and withdrawal can last from a few days to a few weeks. Prolonged withdrawal symptoms are common, especially among people who used heavily. Prolonged symptoms can persist for months or years following acute withdrawal. The best way to learn how long methadone withdrawal treatment will take is to set up an initial evaluation with an experienced rehab facility.
Generally, the most positive outcomes are associated with people who are motivated to recover and who are proactive about participating in their own recovery. In that sense, rehab is actively pursued each day over the course of a person’s lifetime.
What Does Methadone Rehab Cost?
Rehab costs are highly variable, and they depend on:
- The intensity and duration of your program
- The quality of the program
- The amenities offered
- Whether medical interventions (pharmacotherapy, for example) are administered
Typically, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $10,000 for a 30-day outpatient program. A 30-day residential program can cost several thousand dollars to more than $25,000.
Does Insurance Cover Rehab?
Many insurance programs, including Medicaid and Medicare, can help with out-of-pocket rehab expenses. Rehab without insurance is possible, and some people have found creative ways to fund their rehab through websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Other options include:
- Government assistance programs: Many states offer state-run rehab programs that offer financial aid for people seeking rehab
- Sliding fee programs: Many public and private rehab facilities offer sliding fee scales to accommodate people from all income groups
- Private pay programs: Private pay programs are typically paid up front
Choosing a Rehab Center for Methadone Abuse
Methadone use disorder is associated with a period of detox and withdrawal, and this period may be best treated in a residential or intensive outpatient setting. Look for multidisciplinary teams that can address physical and psychological components of rehab and recovery. This team should also have the ability to evaluate whether a dual diagnosis is appropriate.
Many successful rehab centers provide reviews from satisfied clients, which can help you decide if the center shares your goals and values. Low staff-to-patient ratios will ensure that you get the attention you need. In addition, accreditation by either The Joint Commission or CARF International will guarantee a certain standard of care.
What to Expect When You Go to Rehab
Rehab can often be challenging. Methadone use disorder is associated with physical and chemical changes in your brain and body, and these changes may persist even after methadone is completely out of your system.
When you enter the rehab program, you will undergo a lengthy intake assessment. You will also be asked to disclose your past and current drug use and medical history. You will establish realistic expectations for your recovery and identify immediate and long-term goals that will help you stay on track.
During rehab, you will likely experience periods of discomfort, embarrassment and perhaps even shame. It is important to accept and embrace these feelings. Quality rehab centers will ensure that you are in a safe place and that your privacy is protected. Because of this, you can let yourself honestly assess your past and make bold (but achievable) goals for your future.
By the time you complete your rehab program, you will have a new mental toolbox full of techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety in healthy, productive ways. You will also have a new support group made up of peers, therapists and clinicians who are dedicated to helping you succeed.
What Happens After Rehab?
After completing a rehab program, it’s important to be proactive about maintaining relationships with positive people from your past or from rehab. Find new, healthy outlets to replace the negative activities you used to participate in. The first few weeks following rehab are some of the most difficult, and you may face triggers and be tempted to relapse. If you cultivate relationships with peers and mentors during your rehab program, you will always have people who you can fall back on for support.
How Rehab Improves Recovery
Methadone use disorder creates challenges that are best addressed by professionals in a rehab facility. Participating in a rehab program gives you access to medical professionals who can identify the best tapering plan for you. They may also recommend medicine that can significantly reduce the discomfort associated with detox and withdrawal.
Following rehab, you will take your first steps in your new life. By entrusting your care to an experienced rehab program, you will not be alone when you take these steps. Having a robust emotional support system in place can make a profound difference in successfully transitioning back to daily life. Rehab is one of the most reliable ways to develop this system.
Key Points: Understanding Methadone Addiction Treatment and Rehab
Methadone is a powerful narcotic opioid that is used to treat severe pain. Even when used as directed, methadone can rapidly lead to dependence. Here are some important points about methadone addiction treatment and rehab:
- Methadone withdrawal is characterized by uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms
- Methadone rehab facilities will work with you to identify an appropriate tapering program and may recommend medicine to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms
- Multidisciplinary rehab centers can evaluate whether a dual diagnosis is appropriate for you and. If it is, they will help you understand your diagnosis and how you can manage it during recovery.
- Rehab costs can be expensive, but many insurers (including Medicaid) can help with the costs. In addition, many programs have sliding fee scales and offer grants to people who do not have insurance or cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs.
- Rehab can be challenging, but it will help you live a life free from methadone dependence or addiction
Overcoming methadone use disorder can be overwhelming. If you or someone you know is struggling with methadone use, The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options that can work well for your situation.
Drugs.com. “Methadone.” August 2019. Accessed August 2, 2019.
Grissinger, Matthew. “Keeping Patients Safe From Methadone Overdoses.” Pharmacy and Therapeutics, August 2011. Accessed August 3, 2019.
World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed August 3, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.