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How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your System?

Methadone is an opioid prescription medication commonly traded under the brand names Dolophine, Methadose, and others. physically, Methadone appears as a white crystalline powder or colorless crystals. For medical purposes, methadone is available in the form of tablets and injectable solutions. The major routes of methadone administration include oral ingestion of methadone tablets, dispersible tablets, and oral solutions, while the injectable solutions are administered through subcutaneous, intravenous, or intramuscular injection. Methadone is a narcotic analgesic, synthetic, and long-duration opioid drug prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, especially neuropathic pain and cancer. After quitting methadone, users are concerned about fully removing it from their system as it may take some time for the drug to leave the system.

Table of Contents:

How long does methadone stay in your system?

After completely quitting methadone use, it may last in the system for several days depending upon a number of factors. On average, Methadone stays in the body system for 8 to 59 hours depending on the amount of dosage and type of formulation, and the route of administration. Therefore, this implies that clearing methadone from the system can take between 1 day 20 hours and 13 days 12 hours after taking the last dose.

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your System?

Peak levels and Half-Life of Methadone:

Methadone’s peak levels are a measure used to determine the time taken by the drug to produce its full effects on the body, while Methadone’s half–life indicates how long it takes before the blood concentration of the drug begins to fall below 50 percent. After Methadone reaches the peak levels, the subsequent peak effects may last for about 4-8 hours before stabilizing. For the oral ingestion, it takes 30 minutes before Methadone can be detected in the plasma before reaching a peak concentration after 4 hours.

Chronic or repeated administration leads to high peak serum Methadone concentrations resulting in gradual accumulation of thedrug in the body tissues hence causing significant psychological and physiological effects.

Depending on the formulation of methadone, the half-life durations may vary considerably. Furthermore, the dosage amounts of Methadone may vary accordingly since the drug is used for multiple purposes such as pain relief and treatment of opioid abstinence syndrome. The half-life durations for Methadone range between 8 hours and 59 hours, with the extended-release tablets indicating the highest half-life effects

Factors that determine how long methadone stays in the system:

the duration for which methadone stays in the system of the user may vary a great deal depending upon a number of factors quoted below:

1.Individual variations:

  • Personal factors:
    If two people take the same amount of methadone at the same time, one of them is likely to clear it from their system faster than the other. There are a number of individual factors that determine how fast methadone will be cleared off.
    Age: Young people are likely to clear the drug from their system faster than older ones. This is because of a number of reason such as slowed down bodily functions, low metabolic rate, less efficient physiological functions, use of other medications etc in elderly people. People who are 65+ are usually prescribed low amounts of methadone for the same reason.
    Body mass index: The height and weight of the user determine how long will it take for the drug to be cleared off from the system. Tall people with more body mass are likely to get rid of the drug faster than short people.
  • Genetic disposition:
    Genetics play an important role in defining the whole personality and bodily functions of a user. Certain enzymes involved in the metabolism of methadone are produced by the expression of certain genes present in the user.
  • Liver function:
    Liver is the primary organ involved in the detoxification and removal of methadone. A person with liver impairment will take longer to excrete the drug than a person with a healthy liver.
  • Metabolic rate:
    Basal Metabolic Rate of a person determines how fast the drug is metabolized and removed from the system. People with active lifestyle and healthy eating habits show quicker methadone metabolism.
  • Frequency, length and amount of use:
    With prolonged use of methadone in high amounts, the drug becomes incorporated in the body tissues, especially fat cells. It means the users accumulates substantially high amounts of methadone in the system and as a result, it takes substantially increased duration of time to remove it from the system.

Methadone absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion:

Methadone Absorption and Distribution:

The rates of absorption and distribution of the drug in the system play a crucial role in determining the length of time it stays within the system. The route of administration influences when the two processes should begin. Through oral ingestion, Methadone in the form of tablets may be detected in the blood within the first 30 minutes to an hour due to the rapid absorption rate of the drug in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the injectable methadone solutions have higher absorption rates that take 15-30 minutes. The distribuation rate of the drug may vary greately from one user to the other depending upon the above quoted factors.

Methadone Metabolism :

Methadone is a lipid soluble drug, so it has the ability to penetrate and cross over into the phospholipid layers of the cells and tissues throughout the body. Once administered, Methadone undergoes extensive biotransformation in the liver and consequently, Methadone is metabolized into two inactive metabolites namely; 2-ethylidene-1.5-dimethyl-3.3diphenylpyrrolidine (EDDP) and 2-ethyl-5-methyl-3, 3-diphenyl-1-pyrroline (EMDP), as well as active minor metabolites such as normethadol and methadol. The inactive metabolites, EDDP and EMDP, are excreted through bile and eliminated in the kidney.

As metabolized Methadone enters into the systemic circulation for distribution throughout the body, its lipid soluble effects may leave drug’s residues in the body. The report by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that Methadone residues may remain within the system for months after taking the last dose of the drug. Subsequently, these drug residues may exacerbate the withdrawal symptoms and worsen the drug cravings based on the individual’s severity of addiction before starting Methadone treatment.

Overdose or high dosage levels may cause excessive accumulation of methadone in the system whereas too low dosage levels may aggravate the patient’s susceptibility to drug cravings and withdrawal symptom effects.

Methadone excretion:

Most of the major metabolites of methadone are excreted via urine. Small amounts are also excreted via feces, bile and sweat. Though most of the methadone is excreted in the from of its meathbolites, some unchanged methadone may also leave the body via urine. Since the half life of methadone ranges between 8-59 hours, its average half life can be estimated to be 33.5 hours. It means that for the complete removal of the drug, it may take around 8 days.

Drug tests used to detect methadone in the system:

A number of different modes of testing can be used to detect methadone in the system depending upon the circumstances:

  • Urine Tests: Urine tests are most commonly used for the detection of methadone due to their non-invasive nature and ease of performance. Fresh urine sample is collected from the patient and is tested in the lab for methadone metabolite EDDP. The methabolite becomes detectable in the urine within an hour of ingestion and remains detectable for up to 2 weeks post ingestion.
  • Blood tests: When methadone is taken orally, it becomes detectable in the blood within a half an hour. The drug reaches its peak values in the blood within 4 hours and remains detectable for several days. Though blood tests can be used up to several days post-ingestion, they are seldom used due to their invasive nature.
  • Saliva tests: Salivary levels of methadone tend to correlate with blood levels. For this reason, it becomes detectable within a half an hour and remains detectable for up to several days.
  • Hair Follicle Tests: With the prolonged use of methadone, the drug becomes lodged in hair follicles. The greater the amount of drug consumed, the greater the amount of metabolite ‘EDDP’ will be accumulated in the hair. Howeever, for a new user, it may take days or even weeks to build up sufficient amounts of methadone in their hair to be tested. Hair tests are useful since they can detect drug usage even after several months of last drug use.
Why do people test for methadone?

You may be required to undergo methadone testing due to a number of circumstances such as:

  • Addicts that are undertreatment in a rehab center may require to be tested for methadone and other drugs. Sometimes patients end up taking any drug including methadone in an attempt to achieve a high.
  • Drug tests can be used to monitoranalgesia levels of a pateint to reduce the susceptibility to drug craving effects, dependence and addiction in clinical settings.
  • They cn be taken to determine the eligibility of a person for a job such as in sports-related organizations, workplaces, or military.
  • Methadone testing may be done to monitor appropriate methadone levels or overdose as part of a patient’s rehabilitation
What are the Complications Linked to Methadone Abuse?

Methadone abuse may lead to a number of complications including, overdose, tolerance, dependence, and addiction among users. Other complications include concentration difficulties, hypersensitivity, facial flushing, sleeping problems, nausea, headache, constipation, flaccid muscles, sweating, and stupor. Moreover, it may cause long-term and life-threatening complications such as altered sensory and cognitive functioning, cardiac arrest, coma, convulsions, pulmonary, edema, respiratory depression, and even death.

What Treatments are Available for Methadone Abuse?

It is difficult to recover from methadone addiction using only a detox program considering its half life and the duration for which it stays in the system. A number of other treatment options are also available to methadone addicts:

  • Alternative Medications: L-alpha-acetylmethadol (LAAM) and Buprenorphine are alternative drugs for Methadone, which are used for the treatment of opioid use disorders. Although Buprenorphine may still be used as an analgesic, it has a low potential for abuse or overdose and safer for respiratory depression since it is a Schedule V drug. Like methadone, LAAM falls under Schedule II drugs, but it provides no euphoric longer lasting effects.
  • Psychotherapeutic counseling: Seeking the medical help from trained and competent psychiatrists may help you in different approaches towards changing your attitudes and thoughts about Methadone abuse. You may also engage in either group or family therapies where you can acquire psychoeducational skills and self-care management to support you towards your recovery process.
  • Peer Support Programs: Sharing similar experiences with your peers in support programs such as the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) create an avenue for support among members sharing a common goal of moving towards recovery.
  • Rehabilitation: Seeking medical help from a recognized rehab center and committing yourself for at least 90 days of treatment period can help you in getting through detox to manage your withdrawal symptoms and craving effects of Methadone.
How to clear methadone from the system faster?

One the drug has been quit, it should be avoided at any cost or the cycle of clearing it from the system will begin all over again. Certain measures can be taken to speed up the process of methadone removal from the system.

  • Methadone tends to accumulated in the system. Taking measures to reduce body fats may help to get rid of the drug faster.
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle such as regularly practicing exercise and yoga, eating healthy can further speed up the process by stimulating metabolism.


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