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How To Taper Off Methadone – The Correct Way!

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Are you a recovering addict on methadone? If you are ready to begin the taper off methadone then you need to know how to taper off methadone the correct way to avoid relapse, Here, I explain the best way possible to taper off methadone because I personally know. #methadone #methadonemaintenance #MMT #substanceabuse #relapseprevention #recovery #addictionrecovery #recoveringaddict #fixyourlife #selfgrowth

I will start by saying, it is possible to taper off methadone. Numerous people have done it with success.

Yet, society believes that recovering addicts on methadone maintenance will be on methadone forever.

For some, this is true.  Some people have no problem with being on methadone for the rest of their life.  In reality, who can blame them? Being dependant on methadone is a much better alternative to supporting an out of control heroin addiction every day.

Getting Ready To Taper Off Methadone

Then, there are those who want to follow a treatment plan and wean off methadone in a designated amount of time.

For everybody’s information, there is NO SUCH THING as a “one fits all” treatment plan that every person follows when it comes to weaning off of methadone.

You have to do what is best for you. You taper off methadone as you see fit.  Your dose is lowered at a comfortable rate for you.  Together, you and your therapist will create an individual treatment plan.  (I do have a post all about creating a treatment plan for yourself which includes a FREE download to create your own.)

If you or a loved one is a recovering addict and are on the methadone maintenance program them you have your own specific treatment plan. Your treatment plan will be different than others depending on how you choose to taper off methadone. After all, a complete taper off methadone is the ultimate goal. #methadonedetox #treatmentplan #mmt #methadone #lowermethadonedose #recoveringaddict #addictionrecovery #substanceabusetreatment

Stabilize Your Methadone Dose

The first step in being in methadone maintenance treatment is to stabilize your methadone dose.  A therapist, methadone doctor, and medical staff will work with you and together you will be on a stable amount of methadone.

Typically, it takes a few months to work this out.  You will have, to be honest with the doctor and your therapist.

Tell them how you feel.

Whether or not you are physically experiencing cravings.

 Let them know how well you are functioning.

Are you tired and sluggish?  Do you not want to get off the couch all day?  Do you notice yourself nodding out as if you were high?

All of these factors need to be taken into account when adjusting your dose.

When people first begin going to a methadone clinic, it is usual for them to still be using heroin until their dose is high enough to prevent them from going through withdrawal.

The goal is not to use any other drugs with your methadone.  The faster you get to this point, the better.

You must be honest with yourself, your therapist, and the doctor.  The better the staff is able to access the situation, the quicker you will be able to become stable on methadone.  You can’t begin to work on other issues until the main problem is corrected.

Maintenance Period

Once stable, the maintenance period begins.  After all, it is called methadone maintenance treatment.  The maintenance period begins once you are on a stable dose of methadone.  A stable dose entails the following:

    • No physical withdrawal symptoms
    • Able to function
    • Not tired
    • No feelings of euphoria
    • Holds a person 24-36 hours before feeling the effects of not having it
    • No mood swings, irritability
    • No sleepless nights

After you are at a stable dose, it is time to begin the actual maintenance period.  The maintenance period is when you truly start to work on your recovery.  You are MAINTAINING SOBRIETY.  

Along with your therapy (both group and one on one counseling sessions), you learn to address the underlying issues of your addiction.

Even if you had a perfect upbringing with happily married parents and a secure home, there are always underlying issues to why you chose to use drugs.

Methadone maintenance treatment have the highest success rate for long-term abstinence. So taper off methadone the correct way to prevent relapse and remain a success story. #heroinaddict #successstory #yourstory #substanceabuse #substanceabusetreatment #methadonemaintenanceprogram #recoveringaddict #relapseprevention

You pinpoint your relapse triggers and learn how to cope with life without the use of drugs. If you need help with that, I have heard great things about The Addiction Recovery Skills Workbook. Try it out for yourself.

Throughout the maintenance period, you will also deal with the wreckage of the past.  This will be an ongoing process that simply becomes a part of your life.  As time goes on, you will learn how to cope and handle the issues without wanting to use heroin or other drugs.

Your life will slowly but surely begin to improve.  Once you maintain your sobriety and begin to easily manage your life, you will feel better. Better about yourself and better about your situation.  You will look back in amazement at how far you have come.

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Get your online free recovery resources in the sober stash freebie. An interactive list containing tons of sober resources to maintain your recovery, your way. #addictionrecovery #recovery #sober #sobriety #recoveringaddict #womeninrecovery

How To Lower Your Dosage

Now that you got your recovery under control and you have built a solid foundation.  Your cravings are few and far between.  To everyone’s surprise, you have done it. You not only have your family back, but you may also have even begun your own family.  Little kids running around, you love your life.  Every week you receive a paycheck from your job.  You took care of your legal situation.  Everything is going well.  Then it happens.  The question that is on everyone’s mind.

Are you going to be on methadone forever?

Bam, wake up call!  

You haven’t been giving it much thought with all the success that you have been able to achieve since you began MMT.  You don’t plan on being on methadone forever but, you have no clue how long it will take to detox.

Or maybe you really don’t care if you are on it forever.  Hell, it’s a much better decision than the latter. Despite what others may think.

If you deal with the stigma of being on methadone by family and friends then tell them to read the book, Methadone: Bad Boy of Drug Treatment: What Works & What Doesn’t. It lays out the facts and the myths. Hopefully, it will help them to understand. Or to shut their mouth.


The horror stories of methadone detox begin to fill your head.  While they may be nothing more than methadone myths but, who really knows?  The logical answer is to discuss lowering your methadone dose with your counselor.

If you are in methadone maintenance treatment, you must taper off methadone the correct way or you will not feel good and go through physical withdrawal. #withdrawal #opiodaddiction #methadone #methadonedetox #taper #relapseprevention #addictionrecovery

To Each His Own

When you address this issue with your counselor, you decide that it is time to begin lowering your methadone dose.

There is no specific way to go about this.  The correct way is to taper off of methadone safe and slowly.  You can not designate a specific amount of time it will take you or how long you decide to be on MMT. Methadone Maintenance is a long-term treatment.  The National Institute for Drug Abuse recommends being on methadone for at least one year.  Most people are on it much longer.  Some do not plan on ever tapering off of methadone.  Their life has improved and they feel comfortable with the way it is.

People fear to lower their methadone dose.  They do not want to become physically sick or experience any withdrawal symptoms.  Others are scared that they might even relapse if their methadone dose is too low.

Every clinic is different but, they will only lower your dose by so much at a time.  Typically it’s a maximum of either 5 mg or 10 mg.

Yet, when people are slowly tapering off of methadone, they go lower than that.  A few milligrams here and there and stop if you feel uncomfortable is the advice medical staff gives one who wants to get off of methadone completely.

There are different reasons people decide to lower their methadone dose.

    • Some simply don’t want to be on methadone forever.
    • Parents want to be off of methadone by the time their children begin school.
    • Being on methadone could be putting a halt on your career.
    • Some pay out-of-pocket and simply can’t afford it anymore.
  • Others are sick of having to abide by their clinic rules.

Learn how to taper off methadone the right way. Just like this sober woman.

How & Why I Lower My Methadone Dose

The reasoning is endless.  My personal agenda is for a variety of reasons.

    • I want to be done by the time my kids go to school.
    • It’s putting a halt on our dreams because we can’t travel and need to for career purposes.
    • I want to relocate and there is no clinic anywhere even close to where we want to live.

All of these factors combined with my success in treatment corroborated my initial thought of lowering my methadone dose so I can begin the tapering process.

Here is my personal way of tapering.  I began to decrease shortly after my last child was born.  In less than a year I have cut my dosage in half without any withdrawal symptoms, sleeplessness, or irritability. It was easy as can be.  This is how I do it.

    • Decrease by 2 mg a week for 5 weeks.  That’s a total decrease of 10 mg.  (ex.  If my goal is to go from  100 to 90 mg, I will do so in 5 weeks by decreasing 2 mg a week)
    • Then, I stop for a few weeks, maybe a month or two if need be and let my body catch up.
    • Continue with this method and stop when need be.
    • Repeat this process over and over again until reaching single mg doses. All the while, doing what feels right for your own body and mind.

Do you know the number of documented cases of substance abuse? What about heroin addiction? What about methadone? Learn how to taper off methadone and get all chemicals out of your body. #addictionrecovery #substanceabuse #detox #withdrawal #heroinaddiction #methadone #taperoffmethadone

Deciding Factors When Tapering

When I say I let my body catch up, this is what I mean.

Methadone stores in your fat cells.

As you decrease, you are physically ingesting less methadone so, your body is using the methadone that is stored in your fat cells.  Your body must balance out again so, it’s equal to the amount you take daily and the amount your body stores in reserves.

This is also why people don’t feel the maximum effects of methadone withdrawal for weeks after they stop using methadone.

A person’s metabolism is also a deciding factor.

Some people metabolize methadone faster than others.  While the standard patient is on a daily dose of methadone. There are those people who are medically proven to have super-fast metabolisms.

These select people receive split doses.  This means if they are on 200 mg of methadone a day.  They take 100 mg in the morning and 100 mg in the evening because if they take the full amount in the morning, it doesn’t hold them until their next dose and they will start to withdrawal because their body metabolizes it faster than others.

As you can see, everyone is different.  Everyone’s needs are different. This is why you have an individual treatment plan.  Each individual needs individual treatment, even when tapering.

The only factor that is the same for everyone is when you decide it’s time to start tapering down, you must do it slowly and correctly.

I taper down 2 mg a week for 5 weeks and stop for a month.

A friend of mine lowers her methadone dose by 3 mg every 2 months.

Another person goes down 1 mg a week for 10 weeks.

They are all different yet, the similar trait is they all lower their methadone dose slowly and consistently.

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Final Verdict

Deciding to lower your methadone dose is a personal choice.

You have your own individual treatment plan that is suited to your specific needs.  You must be on a stable methadone dose, apply the recovery footwork to maintaining sobriety and treatment, and then correctly taper.

If and when you choose to taper off methadone, do what is right for you. Not what the girl sitting next to you in line does. No one will taper the exact same way.  It’s like recovery, it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you get there.

People who choose to taper off of methadone have the same ultimate goal.  They simply take different paths to get there.   It depends on your own body and mind.  To be successful when tapering, you must lower your methadone dose slowly and safely.

The goal is to do it without experiencing any withdrawal.  To continue living your dream life with no roadblocks.

When done correctly, getting off of methadone can be done rather easily.

Have you decided to taper off methadone?

Comment below and tell me how you are doing.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

I am NOT a licensed therapist. For immediate help call the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Adminstration’s 1-800-662-HELP. It's a free 24/7 service for ppl facing mental +/or substance use disorders.Or you can use the online treatment locator HERE.

Comments

  1. Richard Castillo says

    I am currently at 140 and am going down 5mgs a week the reason I am getting off methadone is I metabolize it quickly and was at 150 and that wasn’t holding me and I simply do not want to keep going up it is better to get off the stuff, I have changed my diet and am eating more natural foods and taking vitamins and started walking and will begin working out soon. protein drinks are helpful and cheaper than eating meals all the time. I am a little shaky sometimes but I will stop for a week if I need or when I need to so I won’t make the mistake of having to go up again. The most important thing I have done is to pray and have a strong faith in Jesus who is my savior and will help me to succeed. If you have any ideas or advice that you think would help please email them to me.
    Respectfully
    rich

  2. Kristen says

    I’m stabalized at 130mgs for only 90 days. I was addicted to prescription pain pills for years. I feel great but am having quite a few stomach adversions to the meds.
    BUT– my life has changed for the better. I left what I thought was my dream job as a bartender earlier this year and just now received news that I landed a job in a entirely different career field and one that I can be proud of.
    I tried so many times to get off of the pills myself to no avail. I can honestly say that methadone saved my life. but now that I have stabilized I feel so strongly about getting off of it so that I am entirely substance-free. I also want to quit smoking. Should I do this before tapering off of the methadone or while I’m tapering? I do not want to go into my thirties with any type of substance in my body. I plan on doing the 2 mg for 5 weeks and then 4 weeks off taper. Slow and steady wins the race. I can’t wait until I can say it’s over and until I can prove everyone in my family that judges me for taking this wrong! Victory will be mine! Muahahahah lol

  3. Angie says

    Thanks for this article! I’m currently at 13 mgs down from 85. I am going 1 mg every two weeks. I’ve been doing this slow taper once I detoxed down to 30 mg. Before I was going a little faster. Not much longer to go!

  4. Not Sure says

    I’m tapering 1 mg a week, since the beginning of June, this year.
    In the past I’ve done it much faster, (3 times to be exact)and at that time I felt I was ready, but looking back now, I clearly wasn’t, and when I say that I mean as far as my education regarding this subject.
    The last time I tapered was 2013. So it took me a while to feel ready again.
    I’m thinking about starting a daily journal as I follow through with this.
    I too, have been eating much more healthier and taking other steps to fill in, in my life, that I had not tried in the past.
    I’m just kind of taking it week by week at this point. Seeing how far I can safely get down on my dose without causing major disruption to me physically and most importantly mentally.

    • Natasha says

      Nice and slow, that’s how you go to do it. You know your body and you know what’s best for you. Listen to yourself. And most importantly, don’t feed into what others say. People that have failed at tapering down and getting off methadone love to scare the shit out of people who are trying to get off of methadone and do it right. Ignore their chatter.

      Keeping that in a journal would be a great idea. If you have the Get Your Shine On recovery journal than you know I periodically send out additional parts to go with the journal. I would be happy to make up some new journal pages for this specific reason. Let me know Katy!! Just email me. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your little ones!

  5. Kevin says

    My wife was on 30 mg for 8 or 9 years for chronic pain. RSD. Before that it was MS Contin for long time.
    Since about 11-20, she’s been tapering pretty successfully after some row with pain clinic doctor.
    Now we’re where the rubber meets the road. There are only a few pills left, and we’re cutting 5 mg pills, since there’s no doctor willing to help. Valerian root, CBD, a little THC. Looking at Kratom, but don’t know enuf about it.
    She’s been doing 2.5 mg in morning and 2.5 mg in evening.
    Today she starts 2.5 mg in the morning, 1.25 mg in evening.
    Next week it will be 1.25 mg in the morning and 1.25 mg in the evening.
    Then three days of 1.25 mg in the morning.
    That’s all the pills.
    She’s done very well, only general shitty feeling, and restless legs,
    We’re not sure what to expect from here. Any thoughts?

    • Natasha says

      Kevin,

      Ok. I’m going to say a few things here. First, your wife is one hell of a woman. which I’m sure you already know lol. I hesitate to give my opinion on this simply because I am not a medical professional and 2nd, methadone use for pain management can be much different from people coming off of opiate addiction which is where I come in to play. For example, when we go to our methadone clinic. We typically start out at 40 mg per day and then people immediately feel they have to climb up to 100 mg or more to be ok. So when someone is on 100 mg and tapers down. They don’t experience any issues physically or mentally until they get in the 30 mg to 40 mg range. That is where the person is advised to taper slowly. Like very slowly. But 30 was her max so her situation is a bit different. Personally, I don’t know much about Kratom either but, I do know a few people who have had GREAT success with it. If you would like, I can find out more info about the Kratom from someone who has personal experience with it. Just let me know. I would need to know a bit more about the situation in its entirety to give an honest opinion. If you want to then You can email me at hello@unjunkiefied.com. If not, I wish you both the best.:) She got this.

  6. Laurie says

    Hi Natasha. I’m currently doing a methadone taper. I was at about 40mg and got pregnant, so with the help of the clinic staff I slowly raised by dose during pregnancy as your blood volume almost doubles and the fetus begins using it too. I got up to 80mg. After a healthy pregnancy, I began tapering off (5mg every 2 weeks) . I’m now at 35mg, and this is the first week I’ve actually noticed side effects from the taper, so I believe I may need to go a little slower (maybe 2 or 3mg instead of 5mg) and see how that goes. Have you completely tapered off?

  7. Zach says

    I know this is an old post but it was nice to read and get a different perspective. So for a little back story I started using opiates at age 12, daily heavy use started at 15 and I used almost every day at high doses until the age of 23 when my second child was born and after calling almost every day for 9 months on the wait list ( I live in a city in the northeast with only 2 clinics for a city of 400k people) and finally got in. Lets just say I was more than ready to get clean so after getting my dose up to 135mg I was able to completely stop all use and just stay on methadone and a few prescription meds. Getting off looking back was relatively easy due to the fact I was at more than bottom at the time and after using large amounts of opiates for so many years and not really liking any other drugs it was a smooth transition. SImply put I was done with that life. So fast forward to now, I am 28, been clean for almost 5 years and reduced my dose from 135 to 120mg a year ago due to a clinic policy due to the medication I am on. more recently, I transferred clinics due to a move to a different city (organization owns 3 clinics in 3 different cities) I was getting 2 week take homes for the past 3 years since I was doing so well and due to a medication error ( its a long story, one of those bs rules mentioned in the article) I had my take home doses taken away by the prescribing doctor for the clinic. They said it was going to be for 3 weeks but it is going on week 4 and I still have to go every day. This was an eye opener. I never intended on getting off because going 2 times a month wasn’t that bad and I didn’t want to ruin a good thing. After this happened it has negatively affected my schooling (attending college / reason for move) my sons custody ( he lives in a different city and cannot see him as much since I have to go to the clinic every day) and many more issues. I decided to get off regardless of when they decide to give me the take homes back. It was an eye opener for sure. Now I have gone down 10 mgs 2 weeks ago and went down another 5mg a week before this one. . I am currently at 105 and trying to figure out my next move. I am still not sure how to approach this but it is nice to know that I am not alone. I know this was an essay but I hope someone else can get something from it. Methadone saved my life but going off of what another girl said in the comments, it would be an amazing feeling to go into my 30s with no liquid handcuffs. I am really scared because I was told when I started that due to the large amount of use, starting at such a young age, and the damage that was caused I would most likely have to stay on some kind of synthetic replacement opioid for the rest of my life in order to “feel normal”. I know for a fact that I cannot live life going to this clinic every day like this, especially with having so much clean time and missing out on my son / educational opportunities. I have also noticed a difference from going down the 15mgs from 120-105mgs. I am more alert which is a plus but I feel more depressed and had very mild physical symptoms which are going away ( was a little hard to sleep the 1st week after the 10mg reduction). So the game plan is to put in another request next week to go down another 5mg then see about going down 2mg a week as stated until I get to 80 or 90 then take a month break then repeat. I was just going to do 5mg a week until I was done but after reading this I am thinking of doing just 2 with breaks to make it less painful. Thank you to the writer for this article, it is exactly what I needed. And if you made it through this novel of a comment… god bless you are a warrior 😉 and thanks for your time!!

  8. Ashley says

    What about pain management patients?? I have too long of a story, it’s late and I just discovered your thread. Ill have to explain another day lol. But I’m in Orlando, Florida and it’s hell here to have chronic pain.. I’ve been in pain management which has extremely tight rules for about ten years now and I could write a book about the craziness of it all. I was put on methadone for a replacement of a long acting opiod as they were messing with my intestines too much, my doctor then recommended trying an antagonist like methadone 🤦🏼‍♀️😬. This was no bueno.. lol.

    I’ve been tapering a very long time as my health issues rev up like crazy from jaundice to pancreatitis to fibro flares I’m just miserable. My question is at what point did you feel you could safely stop all together?? I’m down to nearly 10 mg a day which the lowest on any opiods in ten years so my body is freaking out greatly.. however I feel like I keep making myself unable to function or work every time I taper for over a week. This has made me feel like I should just pull the trigger on it and jump off all together.

    I’m trying to find as much info as I can and it’s tough out here in Florida as not many fully understand what this experience is like. I’ve been put on clonidine patches by my new Dr I found which has been a huge help, I love medical marijuana it’s definitely why I’m getting off the stuff.. but what else can I do to ease my symptoms?? No energy and lots leg and joint pain, pain all over really.. especially when I get within two hours of my next dose.

    Thanks so much for anyone’s time that reads this🤦🏼‍♀️💗💯
    I appreciate any and all advice!! I’m thinking of stopping next month and getting Valium for week one..
    💗

  9. Lee says

    I’ve been on methadone for 31years and I’m reducing at 2ml per week and from 70ml to 38ml and I can’t make up mind to move to suboxone??

    • Natasha says

      Hi Lee. I know people who have done great switching to suboxone. Yet, I think it depends. Personally, I wouldn’t try it. I know subs don’t work for me. (at least I have it in my mind that they don’t lol) Point being, I know myself and my mind well enough that I know that transition would not be in my best interest. A close friend of mine that is on methadone, has also had success detoxing in the past using subs so he is strongly considering making the switch once he gets down to 10. He is on 18 right now and decreasing 1 per week. If I responded to subs as he does, I would make the switch. After all of that explanation, my advice is you know your body, you know the way your brain works. You will know what’s right for your sobriety.

      • Jennifer Cochrane says

        Hey Natasha! My name is Jennifer and I am currently on a 60mg dose of methadone, and the plan is to start tapering down to get off the stuff completely June 1st. What is the easiest way? The doctor told me in the beginning I can do 5 or 10mg until I get to 20mg, then I get to taper off 2mg at a time. Just wanted some insight cause I know this place won’t be any help. Thank you!

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