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How Fast Does Methadone Work?

by Nick

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with methadone helps patients with opioid use disorder get relief from cravings and withdrawal symptoms. As a potential MAT patient, you may wonder about the specifics of methadone-based MAT. If you want fewer cravings and withdrawal symptoms, you may also want to know how long it takes for methadone to provide benefits. Discover when you can expect methadone to start working and the typical length of treatment.

What to Expect After Your First Methadone Dose

After you complete your intake, your MAT clinic will give you the first methadone treatment. At the start of your MAT program, you and your doctor will look for a therapeutic dose of methadone to take. Most patients start with a small dose and will gradually increase to a dose that is appropriate for them. That dose will eliminate physical withdrawals without creating the feelings of euphoria.

Everyone has a unique experience with methadone, so your first few days with it will differ from another person’s. As the methadone builds in your system, you may still have withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Remember to keep your clinic staff updated on any symptoms and side effects you feel throughout methadone treatment. You might benefit from a change in the amount you take.

Typical Length of Methadone Maintenance

Medical professionals recommend at least 12 months of methadone-based MAT to get the best results. However, many patients take methadone for a few years and some much longer. Everyone has a different recovery journey, so the appropriate length of time to spend in a methadone treatment program depends on your unique needs. Your treatment team will help you determine your progress and discover what works best for you. If you decide to stop taking methadone, your doctor can help you taper off the medication.

How to Know When You Get Benefits From Methadone

The right amount of methadone will provide these benefits:

  • Fewer cravings for opioids as you go through recovery
  • Reduced withdrawal symptoms so you can stay comfortable
  • No “high” caused by your methadone treatment

When you reach the ideal amount of methadone for your body, you will notice as few side effects and symptoms as possible. You will have a more comfortable recovery and focus on working toward a drug-free life.

What Happens When Methadone Loses Effect?

Since methadone satisfies your brain’s need for opioids, you can experience withdrawal symptoms when it stops taking effect. A proper amount of methadone relieves symptoms for 24 to 36 hours. However, you may have some withdrawal symptoms as methadone builds in your body. You might experience them eight to 12 hours after your treatment, but they should stop over time. Let your treatment team know if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating, fever or chills
  • Runny nose or watery eyes
  • Sleep issues
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Appetite problems
  • Muscle aches

These withdrawal symptoms can cause discomfort and make it more challenging to follow treatment. Your clinic staff can help you adjust your medication while working on developing other coping mechanisms that keep you committed to recovery.

Start Methadone-Based MAT at Health Care Resource Centers

If you want to enter a methadone MAT program in New England, Health Care Resource Centers (HCRC) can help. Schedule an intake at your nearest location by messaging our team online.

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