How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your System

Within the addiction’s field, methadone has a long-standing history as an effective opiate addiction treatment therapy. Specifically formulated as a replacement for addictive opiate drugs, methadone treatment offers addicts a means for weaning off opiate drug effects, according to the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

Much of methadone’s effectiveness has to do its classification as a synthetic opiate drug. When administered in controlled dosage amounts, methadone’s effects can relieve withdrawal and drug cravings for up to 36 hours at a time.

Methadone’s long-lasting effects stem from a time-release mechanism that allows the drug to stay in the body for prolonged periods of time. While effective, methadone’s therapeutic benefits rely on a specific dosage amount that works according to a set metabolism rate. Consequently, the length of time methadone stays in your system depends on your metabolism rate as well as any other factors that may speed up or slow down your metabolism at any given time.

For people wanting to stop methadone treatment, the drug’s effects on the brain and body require dosages be stepped down over time to avoid an untimely relapse episode. This process can also affect how long methadone stays in your system depending on your dosage level at the time.

We can help you find methadone treatment. Call 866-312-5827Who Answers? toll free today.

Methadone’s Mechanism of Action

People recovering from chronic or long-term opiate addictions can struggle with persistent withdrawal and drug cravings effects long after they stop abusing drugs. Long-term opiate abuse leaves lasting effects on brain function making it difficult for those in recovery to follow through in the recovery process.

Brain regions most affected by methadone have undergone considerable damage in terms of their ability to maintain a normal chemical balance throughout the brain. In effect, this damage has weakened the brain cells responsible for secreting vital neurotransmitter chemicals.

Methadone works by supporting damaged brain cell functions, which can then produce needed amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals. These interactions allow brain chemical levels to return to normal. In turn, a person gains considerable relief from withdrawal and drug cravings effects.

As everyone’s body and brain chemistry differs, it’s imperative the right dosage amount be administered in order for a person to reap methadone’s therapeutic effects. A methadone doctor will help you determine the proper dosage. Call 866-312-5827Who Answers? to find help today.

Methadone Metabolism


Methadone has a longer half life than some other opiates.

As a synthetically made opiate drug, methadone has a built-in slow release effect that delivers the effects of the drug over a set period of time. Methadone is also a lipid soluble material that easily crosses over into cell and tissue materials throughout the body.

Methadone metabolism takes place in the liver at which point it enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body. As it moves through the bloodstream, methadone’s lipid soluble effects can leave residues of the drug in the body.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, residue materials can linger for months after a person stops taking the drug. These residues can actually aggravate drug cravings and withdrawal depending on the severity of a person’s addiction prior to starting methadone.

Methadone’s slow-release mechanism can also cause problems to develop when a person first starts taking the drug. Since doctors rely on information given by patients when making dosage adjustments, too high a dosage level can cause excess amounts of methadone to build-up in the system, while too low a dosage leaves a person susceptible to withdrawal and cravings effects.

Absorption & Distribution

The body’s absorption and distribution rates and processes play a pivotal role in terms of how long methadone stays in your system. Likewise, the route of administration also influences how soon absorption and distribution processes begin.

When taken in pill form, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before the drug passes into the system. When injected, absorption rates move quickly, only taking from 15 to 30 minutes. When snorted, methadone gains entrance into the bloodstream through the nasal passages so absorption times don’t take too much longer than injecting.

Distribution rates can vary considerably depending on a person’s weight and metabolism rates. Since the drug can easily pass into fat tissues and organs, distribution levels within any one region can fluctuate throughout the course of any given day.

Peak Levels and Half-Life

Peak levels for methadone indicate how long it takes before the full of effects of the drug take hold, whereas methadone’s half-life determines how long before blood concentrations start to dip below 50 percent. Once methadone reaches peak levels, peak effects can last anywhere from four to eight hours before leveling off.

Methadone’s half-life duration can vary depending on how it’s formulated. Since methadone can be used as a pain relief medication as well as an opiate addiction treatment, dosage amounts can vary accordingly. This means half-life durations can run anywhere from eight to 59 hours with extended-release tablets producing the longest half-life effects.

Drug Testing Considerations

For drug testing purposes, methadone timetables can vary depending on the type of test administered. The body normally excretes small amounts of methadone in metabolite form as well as in its original form through urine and excrement. Incremental amounts may also appear in the body’s sweat.

Once again, a person’s overall health in terms of his or her weight, physical activity and hydration level can all influence how long methadone will show up on a drug test. On average, detection times for different types of testing go as follows –

  • Blood testing – up to 24 hours after the last dose
  • Saliva testing – anywhere from one to 10 days after
  • Urine testing – six to 12 days after
  • Hair follicle testing – for up to 90 days after the last dose

Medical Factors

As health status plays a pivotal role in how long methadone stays in the system, it takes considerably longer for methadone to clear the system in cases where chronic medical conditions exist. Medical conditions that prolong methadone’s time in the body include –

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Acute viral hepatitis
  • Obstructive jaundice
  • Chronic active hepatitis

Tapering Considerations

Considering how methadone acts as a replacement therapy when used in addiction treatment, stopping methadone use abruptly carries a high risk for relapse and a return to drug abuse. According to the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a tapering phase should be implemented once a person is ready to stop methadone treatment.

Tapering entails gradually reducing dosage amounts over a pre-determined period. Tapering phases can run anywhere from three to six months depending on a person’s addiction history.

For help finding methadone maintenance treatment call 866-312-5827Who Answers? toll free today.

Call to Find a Methadone ClinicPhone icon800-823-2860 Info iconWho Answers?

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed below, each of which is a paid advertiser:

ARK Behavioral Health

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.