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How Does a Methadone Detox Work?


America’s opioid epidemic has led to more people seeking treatment for opioid use disorders than at any time in our history. Whether you are researching Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) or you’re currently prescribed methadone, you are likely to encounter the term methadone detox.

Do I Need Methadone Detox?

What is methadone exactly and what is a methadone detox? This Swift River blog is designed to answer both of those questions and help you make an informed decision about addiction treatment. The term methadone detox most often refers to tapering someone off of methadone. Regardless of how a person became dependent on this medication, the fact is, it can be really tough to quit.

The end result is that people end up either stuck in a methadone maintenance program that’s no longer in their best interest, dependent on methadone for pain they no longer have or addicted to methadone they acquire illegally. The bottom line is, if you’re on methadone and you don’t want to be any longer, a methadone detox in Massachusetts like Swift River can help. 

Why is Methadone So Tough to Quit?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid medication that has been used for several decades as part of opioid addiction treatment. It functions by binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids target, alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing drug cravings. Unlike other opioids, methadone has a longer half-life, meaning its effects last longer, allowing for once-daily dosing and providing a stable and sustained level of relief.

But, this longer half-life also means that methadone molecules are particularly “sticky” and remain in some receptors much longer than natural and semi-synthetic opioids do. That means the withdrawal symptoms have a tendency to go on and on, unfortunately. The notoriously difficult withdrawal is a major reason why methadone is tough to quit. 

Top Reasons Why People Can’t Get Off Methadone:

  • Fear of relapsing on the original opioid drug of choice.
  • Worries about lingering, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms
  • Methadone programs that may discourage titration (lowering dose)
  • Physical and mental addiction to methadone. 


How Methadone Detox Can Help

A methadone detox in Massachusetts is the ideal way to get past the seemingly impenetrable wall between you and a methadone-free life. If you’re worried about relapsing on other opioids, we can help with that too. Swift River is a comprehensive, full-service substance use disorder treatment center. Our methadone detox near Springfield, MA is just one part of our program. Once you complete methadone detox, we have a outstanding inpatient treatment program that offers evidence-based dual diagnosis care to reinforce your recovery.  

But, before we get to that portion of treatment, we need to safely and comfortably get your off of that methadone. That’s where the methadone detox comes in. Our methadone detox offers inpatient care. That means patients here have 24-hour medical support. Any withdrawal symptoms are treated promptly with the range of detox meds at our facility. You will always feel seen at Swift River, especially in our methadone detox. 

Methadone detox takes time. Depending on the dosage someone is at, it can be substantially longer than other forms of detox. But here at Swift River, we take the time to do it right. Our methadone detox can help you by bypassing the withdrawal symptoms that have kept you from quitting before and supporting your recovery on the other side of the detox process. 


How Does A Methadone Detox Work, Exactly?

Swift River is a comprehensive addiction treatment center, so we take great care in carefully evaluating every patient’s unique set of needs and building a tailor-made individual treatment plan for them. For a person entering our methadone detox near Springfield, MA, this is what the process looks like:


    The process begins with a thorough assessment of your addiction history, overall health, and any co-occurring mental health disorders. This evaluation helps our clinicians determine the appropriate methadone dosage to start your taper at and what other medications or treatment you may need. 


    After your assessment, you enter the initiation phase of our methadone detox program. Methadone is administered under medical supervision to ensure safety and proper dosage adjustment. The dosage is gradually adjusted over time based on the individual’s response and progress.


    During the stabilization phase, the Swift River clinical team monitors your progress, assessing the effectiveness of the methadone dosage. The goal is to find the optimal dose that alleviates withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings without causing excessive sedation or intoxication.

    Individual and Group Therapy:

    At Swift River, we want you to begin the therapy portion of your treatment as soon as you’re feeling up to it. This is an essential part of the program to help ensure that you not only hold onto the progress you’ve made but can continue to grow in your recovery long after methadone detox and treatment with us. 


    Tapering, sometimes called titration, involves gradually reducing the dosage of methadone over time under the supervision of our clinical team. We carefully adjust your dosage to minimize side effects as you complete your methadone detox. We also use other medications to help offset any discomfort you may have.

    Methadone Maintenance vs. Methadone Detox

    It’s important to understand that methadone maintenance and methadone detox are two different things. Maintenance entails a person staying on methadone for an indeterminate amount of time. This is also called harm reduction. The idea is that staying on methadone staves off cravings and makes relapse much less likely. Some people remain on methadone maintenance for many years. Methadone detox on the other hand means utilizing a methadone taper to detox someone off of methadone (or another opioid). At the end of a methadone detox, ultimately you would not be on any methadone at all, ideally. 

    This can be a controversial subject and whether or not you do maintenance or detox is a deeply personal decision. Swift River wants for you to have the facts do you can make an informed choice. 

    Pros of Methadone Detox:

        1. Withdrawal Symptom Management: Methadone detox effectively manages withdrawal symptoms, minimizing discomfort and cravings, and allowing individuals to focus on their recovery.
        2. Freedom From Methadone: At the end of your methadone detox, ultimately you will be free from your dependence or addiction to this medication. 

      Pros of Methadone Maintainance: 

        1. Harm Reduction: Methadone acts as a safer alternative to illicit opioid use, reducing the risk of overdose and the transmission of bloodborne infections associated with intravenous drug use.
        2. Long-Term Safety: For some people who have been unable to remain in recovery successfully after many attempts, this may be the safest option. This is especially true for IV users and people who have had multiple overdoses.


      Final Thoughts About Methadone Detox

      Methadone detox plays a vital role in helping individuals overcome opioid addiction. By effectively managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, methadone allows individuals to focus on their recovery journey. For people dependent on methadone, a methadone detox is the easiest and most comfortable way to end their dependence.

      The bottom line is methadone detox works best as part of an overall treatment plan. By itself, it is an incomplete solution. If you choose to get methadone detox only and do not participate in further treatment or therapy, you run the risk of doing yourself a real disservice. You may miss out on some essential personal growth that can stabilize your recovery.

      If you or someone you love is interested in methadone detox or any other aspect of substance use disorder treatment, Swift River would love to talk with you. Gie us a call anytime at: 888-451-5895

      Contact Swift River Now

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