Methadone is an opioid medication that may be sold under the brand names Methadose and Dolophine. It comes in tablet or liquid solution form and is prescribed under strict guidelines to help treat those struggling with opioid addiction.
Methadone can be prescribed during opioid detox to treat symptoms of withdrawal or it may be prescribed for pain management that has not responded to other treatment methods. Taking too much methadone at once or taking doses too frequently can lead to physical dependence, addiction, and other adverse side effects.
In the average individual, methadone can be detected in a urine test for up to two weeks.
How Long Do the Effects of Methadone Last?
Methadone is designed to be taken orally. It may be prescribed in tablet form or in the form of dissolvable wafers in a liquid solution. The effects of methadone appear about 30 minutes after ingestion and last for approximately 8-12 hours depending on the dose.
Common effects of methadone are:
- Chest pain
- Swelling of the arms or legs
- Difficulty sleeping
- Breathing problems (respiratory depression)
How is Methadone Metabolized and Eliminated From the Body?
Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist that works by binding to the same receptors in the brain as other opioids do. However, it has a longer half-life than most opioids, with an average half-life of 1-2 days. Methadone is primarily metabolized in the liver and excreted from the body through urine. It is broken down into several byproducts or metabolites, with the most prevalent one being 2-Ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine or EDDP. Traces of EDDP may also be found in the blood, saliva, and hair for varying lengths of time.
How Long Does Methadone Show Up on a Drug Test?
Future and current employers, treatment programs, athletic programs, and law enforcement officials may all have the authority to ask you to take a drug test. Standard 5, 10, and 12-panel drug tests screen for opioid use, but not all of them will detect methadone use. Instead, more specialized drug tests must be ordered to detect methadone in your system.
Although methadone is typically processed and eliminated from the body within two weeks, traces of it can be detected in your system for much longer. How long methadone shows up on a drug test can vary based on your age, weight, metabolism, dosage, and other factors, including what type of test is used.
The following are methadone detection times by test type:
- Urine tests – Urine tests are accessible, easily administered, low-cost, and accurate, so they are the most common form of drug testing. Methadone can be detected in urine for up to two weeks after the last dose.
- Saliva tests – Saliva tests have a short detection window and aren’t as accurate as urine tests, so they are rarely used. However, methadone can be detected in saliva for up to two days after the last dose.
- Blood tests – Blood tests are fairly invasive and difficult to administer, but they are useful in detecting intoxication in medical settings. Doctor’s offices, hospitals, or other medical centers may use blood tests to detect drugs in your system. Methadone can be detected in blood for up to 55 hours after the last dose.
- Hair tests – Hair tests take a sample of the hair follicle to screen for substances. Methadone can show up on a hair test for up to 90 days after the last dose.
If you have a prescription for methadone, you can provide it to the test administrator so a positive test result doesn’t get held against you. However, if you have been abusing or are addicted to methadone, you may want to consider seeking treatment for substance abuse.
Factors that Influence How Long Methadone Stays in Your System
Several variables can affect how long methadone stays in your body. Some of these are related to the extent of your methadone use, such as how long you’ve been taking methadone, how often you take it, the dose you take, and whether or not you mix it with alcohol or other drugs. Heavier, extended use of methadone can cause its metabolites like EDDP to build up in your system, resulting in longer elimination times.
Other factors are related to your health, for example:
- Age – Younger individuals may process and eliminate methadone from their bodies at a faster rate.
- Weight – A person’s BMI may affect how quickly methadone leaves the body.
- Metabolism – People with faster metabolisms will eliminate methadone more quickly.
- Liver function – People with liver problems may metabolize methadone more slowly.
Understanding Methadone Addiction, Dependence, and Withdrawal Treatment
Like other opioid medications, methadone can lead to physical and psychological dependence as well as overdose. Since it can be habit-forming, it is prescribed only in controlled settings and must be taken exactly as directed by a healthcare provider.
If you are addicted to methadone or if you take it longer than prescribed, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using it. Common symptoms of methadone withdrawal include:
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Body aches
- Muscle pain
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
While methadone is often used to treat opioid addiction, people often require detox and treatment services to stop taking the medication safely. An alternative medication like Suboxone may be prescribed to ease the transition off of methadone. During detox, treatment specialists can facilitate therapy sessions and encourage healthy lifestyle changes to further minimize symptoms of withdrawal.
Find Help Today
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction of any kind, our team at Arise Treatment Center can help you explore your treatment options.
Here at Arise Treatment Center, we know that each person is unique and that addiction treatment does not come in a one-size-fits-all plan, and we approach the treatment of addiction with that in mind. Through our comprehensive clinical approach to recovery, we will work alongside you to develop a unique treatment plan that is catered to meet your needs. Arise Treatment Center offers a safe, supportive, and peaceful environment with comfortable accommodations where you can focus and begin healing from substance abuse.
In addition, we offer a wide variety of evidence-based and holistic addiction treatment programs along with integrated plans of health and wellness activities that are designed to serve you in a more structured, nurturing, and managed environment.
Call now to learn more.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Methadone, Retrieved August 2023 from https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/medications-counseling-related-conditions/methadone
- National Library of Medicine: Current Concepts in Methadone Metabolism and Transport, Retrieved August 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339814/
- National Library of Medicine: Optimum Methadone Compliance Testing, Retrieved August 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3379523/