Blog | Drug Abuse

How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Methadone?

Methadone is often used during detox to help heroin and other opiate addicts manage withdrawal symptoms, but it is still a narcotic pain reliever capable of causing a powerful addiction. This synthetic opiate stands out from other painkillers by affecting users in different ways. For example, a dose that is dangerous for one person might have virtually no effect on another. The drug travels through the body at different speeds, taking anywhere from 20 hours to 2 days or more.

Even medically supervised use has risk which is why so many accidental addictions occur. Methadone treatment centers are the only ones allowed to prescribe the drug for heroin addiction to ensure its use is properly supervised. Whether taken recreationally or for opiate detox and addiction recovery, methadone hooks people at different rates, but those most susceptible can become addicted in less than two weeks.

The Dangers of Methadone

The dangers of methadone are real and should not be taken lightly. Like many narcotics, methadone can slow a person’s respiratory rate. While the pain relief wears off after six to eight hours, the drug can stay in the body for days, so individuals often take more methadone before the previous dose or doses have left the system. This can lead to respiratory failure, coma and death.

The following are other facts about the dangers of methadone:
  • Combining methadone and alcohol is dangerous and potentially lethal
  • Methadone overdoses quintupled between 1999 and 2005
  • The drug can stay in the system for up to 59 hours, compared to 6 for heroin
  • Withdrawal symptoms are generally far worse than those for heroin
  • Addiction to methadone, like all drugs, has a long list of undesirable side effects
  • Heroin relapse is more common with methadone users who got hooked during detox


Treating Methadone Addiction

Quitting methadone “cold turkey” can cause an individual to experience severe withdrawal symptoms which are often far worse and longer lasting than those from heroin. Because the drug stays in the system for a long period of time, the first effects do not appear until the second or third day and generally peak around day six, but they can continue for weeks or longer.

Man taking methadone

Medically supervised detox services are strongly advised.

Proper treatment can minimize discomfort while monitoring a patient’s overall health. Methadone detox alone does not constitute a full recovery. An individual needs a customized program that addresses the whole person. This might involve addressing mood disorders, past traumas or co-occurring addictions to other substances. With the right program you can regain control of your life.

Help to Quit Methadone

Few addictions are as dangerous to ignore or as difficult to break, but we can help make the process as painless and effective as possible. We are here 24 hours a day through our toll-free helpline, 877-345-8494, to answer any questions you might have. We can even check your health insurance to see if methadone addiction treatment is covered. This is one addiction where proper treatment makes all the difference.