You will need to be weaned off methadone slowly when you are ready to end your methadone maintenance treatment (MMT). In most cases, this comes in the form of methadone detox.
Why Can’t I Just Stop Methadone When I’m Ready?
On MMT, you will be receiving methadone on a regular basis (usually every day) from a clinic. Methadone is an opioid agonist and, like other opioids, causes dependence. Even if you are not abusing methadone and experiencing serious addictive symptoms, if you attempt to stop taking the drug suddenly after you have been taking it regularly for a few months or longer, you will need to be weaned off it so as not to experience severe withdrawal effects.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “For methadone maintenance [treatment], 12 months is considered the minimum” length of care, so you will definitely need to be weaned off the drug.
In addition, someone who has been doing well on MMT who suddenly stops taking methadone without any kind of medically-assisted withdrawal or tapering-off period will be extremely likely to relapse. You may not have experienced the intensity of the effects of opioid withdrawal before, especially if you were on methadone, but it is important to be aware of how severe these are.
You are at a fragile time in your recovery, and it is important to take slow, deliberate steps toward a better life rather than trying to rush through your treatment. Detox will make your transition from MMT into aftercare much safer and less traumatic, so yes, it is very important.
I Know I’m Ready to End My MMT: Now What?
If you believe you are ready to end your methadone maintenance, remember that you cannot make this decision entirely on your own. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Such a decision should be supervised by a doctor.”
Preferably, your doctor at your maintenance clinic will be able to agree with you on a time when you both feel that you are ready to begin detox. Once you do, your doctor will need to monitor your progress in order to ensure that you are safely detoxing from methadone and not experiencing any severe withdrawal effects or other side effects during the process.
How Does Post-MMT Methadone Detox Work?
This type of detox program works by ensuring that the patient is slowly weaned off the drug so that they do not experience any severe withdrawal symptoms and can safely end their dependence on the drug. If you have been in MMT, you are dependent on methadone. However, this is not the same as abusing opioids, as this treatment program was put into place to help you avoid abusing opioids and to allow you to learn to control your addiction.
Post-MMT detox works similarly to other detox programs: by slowly reducing one’s dosage of methadone over time so that you
- Will not experience severe withdrawal symptoms, such as muscle and joint pain, discomfort, agitation, and flu-like symptoms
- Can be monitored for any serious issues as you are slowly taken off the drug
- Will not experience severe depression and, if you do, your doctor can often recognize symptoms of this issue and treat you for it
- Can have time to ensure that you are truly ready to end MMT and live without methadone maintenance
Sometimes, your dosage may have to be adjusted in order to ensure that you are not experiencing any severe withdrawal effects, but over time, these effects should diminish as the dosage is reduced.
You may be able to come into treatment less and less as your dosage is reduced, and aftercare is often a beneficial option at this point in recovery. Remember, though, not everyone chooses to end their MMT program after a year and then go through detox; “some patients may require continuous treatment that lasts over a period of several years” while others may stay on the drug indefinitely (National Institute of Justice).
Do You Need Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
Call 800-530-0431 now to find a safe, reliable MMT program that can cater to your needs and help you put an end to your substance abuse.