Methadone Withdrawal Timeline
The timeline of methadone withdrawal can be somewhat variable, depending on the degree of dependence that someone has developed, but the long half-life of methadone leads to prolonged withdrawal symptoms. What makes methadone withdrawal different from other opioids is the long-half life, which substantially increases how long withdrawal symptoms will be felt.
In some cases, methadone withdrawal symptoms can set in as early as 12 hours after the last dose, but symptom onset usually occurs between 30-48 hours after the last dose. Symptoms of acute withdrawal can persist for up to 20 days.
Persistent, fluctuating withdrawal symptoms may be present for weeks or months after symptoms were expected to resolve. This is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Although PAWS is incredibly frustrating, it is important for people in recovery to understand that their symptoms will subside as time goes on.
The timeline of methadone detox and acute withdrawal will be different for each person, but a general overview of a typical methadone withdrawal timeline is as follows:
- 12 hours – 2 days: onset of withdrawal symptoms
- 2 – 4 days: the peak of symptom severity
- 4 – 20 days: symptom severity will gradually subside
In some cases, fluctuating symptoms may persist for several weeks or months.
Factors Impacting Methadone Withdrawal
The key determinant in how long methadone withdrawal will last is the degree of dependence that someone has developed. Additional factors that affect the methadone withdrawal timeline include:
- Methadone Withdrawal Factors
Frequency of use
Duration of use
Polysubstance abuse (abuse of other drugs or alcohol simultaneously or concurrently)
The presence of a support system (friends, loved ones, rehab professionals)