Methadone Withdrawal?

A friend of mine has recently ceased his methadone maintainance dosing after 8 months on. His last dose was Saturday morning, which means he’s currently at hour #96 cold turkey. I’ve looked around online, and personal accounts about this seem to really be across the board. My friend, so far, has been doing amazingly well. He’s sore, sweating, and tired but so far there haven’t been any intense symptoms of withdrawal. This is especially surprising to us because he was at an insanely high daily dose (200 mg).

The half-life of methadone is only 24-36 hours from what I’ve read, which seems like it would put him in the thick of his withdrawal now. But is this true? We’re both just so anxious, waiting for the axe to fall, and if we knew that this was likely the worst it would get that would be a big weight off.

I’ve had a bit of experience with other opiate withdrawals, but methadone seems to be a bit of a different beast. So, any factual feedback on this process would be much appreciated.

Mainly my questions are----how long should it take for the most severe withdrawal symptoms to manifest?

—could the high dose he was on be delaying his withdrawal?

—how long does the process usually last?

>optimistic bump<

Anyone? Maybe I should have put this in IMHO…

Methadone is just an opiate with a long half-life. The withdrawl syndrome should be identical to that of other opiates such as heroin except in the time it takes for the last dose to wear off.

You know, people vary a lot with this. It could be just that he’s coping very well with his withdrawal.

Methadone is cleared from the body more slowly than other opiates, so it is quite possible that while the withdrawal is longer it’s not as intense as, say, heroin.

Back when I was working at a methadone clinic we saw a wide variety of reactions, and your friend’s reaction is not that unusual. Yes, some people suffer agonies, for others it’s not so bad. A lot has to do with his own mental attitude.

He should be over the worst of it by now… but it also was not unheard of for people to feel some symptoms of withdrawal for up to two weeks. Not always - some seemed to shake it off much quicker. (His general state of health is a big factor - our “clients” with liver or kidney problems tended to take much longer to clear the drug from their system than those with healthier organs, as just one example)

And, by the way - 200 mg a day is not “insanely high” as far as dosing goes. Yes, it’s impressive (and would be lethal to a non-addict) but it’s not the highest I ever heard of, either. Certainly on the upper end, but not the biggest dose.

Some people report feelings of depression for up to six months after withdrawal from methadone… but only some. There is, of course, the question of whether or not the addiction was masking a depression that was already there.

Like I said - his reaction is not out of line. It could be just that he’s in a good frame of mind to handle this right now (you didn’t say why he was in withdrawal - if this was voluntary on his part that could significantly alter how he perceives the unpleasent aspects of this process, vs. involuntary withdrawal, which most people experience as more miserable), and he’s been fortunate not to have severe symptoms.

Is he still is some sort of program? Does he have some sort of support system to help him stay off the drugs?