How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your System? - Mandala

Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication that is prescribed to help people overcome opioid withdrawal and addiction. It helps reduce withdrawal symptoms, stabilize brain chemistry, and alleviate drug cravings in people who are trying to get sober from drugs like heroin or oxycodone. Methadone is also used for pain management in people with chronic, long-lasting pain that does not respond to other treatment methods.

Methadone has a longer half-life than most other opioids and it can be detected in urine tests for up to two weeks. However, there are several individual health and usage factors that influence how long methadone stays in your system.

Overwhelming your body with too much methadone at one time can result in a life-threatening overdose. Contrarily, if you are taking methadone as prescribed, skipping a dose may deprive your body of the methadone it needs to keep your symptoms at bay. Understanding how long the drug remains in the body can help you take your medication safely, predict withdrawal symptoms, and more.

Methadone Side Effects

Methadone causes similar side effects as other opioids, including:[1]

  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in mood
  • Flushed skin
  • Trouble urinating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Reduced sexual desire

The effects of methadone typically appear 30 minutes to one hour after consuming a dose and they last for about 8-12 hours.

Methadone Half-Life

If you’re wondering how long methadone stays in your system, it’s important to consider the drug’s long half-life. A half-life is a measure used to describe how long it takes the body to eliminate half of a dose of a substance from the body. 

Methadone has a longer half-life than most opioids, ranging from 8-59 hours. In some cases, the half-life is reported to be as long as 120 hours. The average half-life of methadone, however, is around 16-22 hours.[2,3]

It takes about 4-5 half-lives for a substance to leave your body completely, so it can take about 64-110 hours (2.5-4.5 days) for methadone to leave your body. 

Although methadone will be eliminated from your body in a matter of days, it can be detected in your system for much longer. This is because methadone is metabolized extensively in your body, leaving behind trace metabolites that take even longer to leave your system. These metabolites can be detected in urine, blood, hair, and saliva.

Variables that Affect How Long Methadone Stays in Your System

There are many factors that influence how long drugs stay in your system, including:

  • Age – People who are younger tend to metabolize substances faster and pass drug tests sooner than elderly individuals.
  • Weight – Many drugs are stored in fat cells, so people with a higher body mass index (BMI) may take longer to eliminate them from their bodies.
  • Metabolism – Metabolic function can vary greatly from person to person, impacting the elimination time of certain drugs.
  • Frequency and duration of use – The longer you have used methadone and the more frequently you take it, the longer it will remain in your system.
  • Dose – Higher doses will take longer to leave your system.
  • Concurrent use of other substances – Using methadone with other drugs or alcohol may increase the amount of time it stays in your system.

Methadone Detection Times: How Long Does Methadone Stay in the Body?

Methadone can be detected in your system for days, weeks, or months depending on the type of drug test used. The following are average estimated methadone detection times by test type:

Urine

Urine tests are the most widely used type of drug test. They are used by workplaces, parole offices, addiction treatment centers, and more. Methadone can be detected in your urine an hour after you take it and for up to two weeks following ingestion.

Saliva

Methadone can be detected in saliva 30 minutes after ingestion and for up to 2-3 days after your last dose.

Blood

Blood tests are highly accurate, but they are invasive and have a very brief detection window. Methadone can be detected in blood within 30 minutes after ingestion and for up to 2-3 days after your last dose.

Hair Follicle

Hair follicle drug tests are increasing in popularity and have a very large detection window. Methadone, as well as other drugs, can be detected in the hair follicle a couple of weeks after your last dose for up to 90 days.

Find Help for Methadone Abuse and Addiction

When used as directed, methadone is safe and effective. Methadone use is closely monitored by healthcare providers so abuse and addiction do not occur. However, if you or a loved one have become addicted to methadone, know that help is available.

At Mandala Healing Center, we help patients heal their minds, bodies, and spirits from the far-reaching effects of substance abuse. We combine holistic healing with cutting-edge science for maximum effectiveness, utilizing the latest in detox medication to make the process as pain-free as possible. Mandala’s highly trained medical staff specializes in treating opioid addiction, going above and beyond 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year to provide the safest detox possible while minimizing discomfort.

Get started today by speaking with one of our compassionate admissions counselors.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070723/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3171821/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/methadone