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Methadone Withdrawal Psychosis

What is Methadone Withdrawal Psychosis? Effects of Methadone Withdrawal. Causes of Methadone Withdrawal. Mental Side Effects of Methadone Withdrawal. Opiate-Induced Psychosis. Methadone Detox Near Me

Methadone Withdrawal Psychosis

What is Methadone Withdrawal?

Methadone is physically addictive, primarily when used in high doses. Methadone is a prescription drug that has been used for several decades to treat people in recovery from heroin addiction or opioid addiction, leading some heroin users to switch one habit for another. If taken repeatedly, tolerance to Methadone can develop fast. The user will need to take more Methadone to achieve the desired effects.

Once the body relies on this prescription drug to operate normally, a dependence develops. Those dependent on this drug will experience opioid withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue taking it.

Methadone withdrawal occurs because the body has to relearn how to function without the drug in its system. While the body tries to reestablish normal functions, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms make a recovery difficult.

Because the effects of methadone withdrawal can be painful, methadone users are advised to detox in a medical environment. Most inpatient rehab treatment programs offer medical detox, which can help reduce the severity of the effects of methadone withdrawal.

Factors Affecting the Effects of Methadone Withdrawal

The effects of methadone withdrawal can be different for everyone. In addition, the methadone withdrawal timeline will vary depending on the severity and length of the user’s addiction. The user’s body chemistry and tolerance to the drug will also influence their withdrawal symptoms and how long the withdrawal process takes.

The effects of methadone withdrawal, duration, and severity can vary from person to person based on factors such as:

  • The duration of methadone use
  • The frequency of methadone use
  • The dose of methadone consumed
  • The method of consumption 
  • The severity of methadone addiction 

In general, methadone is specifically formulated to produce measured or controlled effects. If this drug is altered, such as when methadone is crushed to be snorted, smoked, or injected, this is considered a sign of drug abuse, and it changes the way methadone is absorbed and metabolized in the body.

methadone withdrawal psychosis

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Causes of Methadone Withdrawal

Methadone withdrawal can happen for two reasons. The first is if methadone is underdosed (meaning that a person does not take enough of it) and does not counteract withdrawal from other opioids. This causes the body to experience withdrawal from other drugs.

The second is methadone withdrawal, which can occur when the body becomes physically dependent on the medication.

Some common causes of methadone withdrawal include:

Methadone Withdrawal Psychosis
Opiates have been proven to cause psychotic symptoms.
  • Incorrect or inadequate dosing: If someone does not take enough methadone, they may experience withdrawal from the opioid for which methadone is being used as treatment.
  • Suddenly stopping methadone: Slowly tapering the dosage of methadone could reduce the risk and the effects of methadone withdrawal.
  • Using certain medications with methadone: Some other medications may decrease the effectiveness of methadone. These include phenytoin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine, ritonavir, and drugs such as potassium.
  • Self-medication: People should only take methadone if a doctor prescribes it. Self-medication with methadone is dangerous and increases the risk of dependence, overdose, addiction, and withdrawal if a person stops taking it abruptly.

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Effects of Methadone Withdrawal

You may experience symptoms of methadone withdrawal after just a few days of taking the drug. Even a low dose, at even a low frequency, can lead to challenging and uncomfortable withdrawal. Though lowering or ending the dose seldom leads to life-threatening consequences, it can result in certain medical and psychological complications that can put the detoxing user in harm’s way if they aren’t appropriately managed.

The effects of methadone withdrawal are generally the same as those for opiate or opioid withdrawal. Physically, methadone withdrawal can have risks related to aspiration (choking) from vomiting (a typical methadone withdrawal symptom) and dehydration from persistent diarrhea and vomiting during this period. Psychologically, opioid and opiate withdrawal can cause mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety linked with thoughts or attempts to self-harm.

The first methadone withdrawal symptoms mark the onset of acute withdrawal, which is distinguished by signs, including:

Methadone Withdrawal Psychosis
Psychosis and drug use are dangerous combinations, but they can be treated.
  • Frequent yawning
  • Stomach cramps
  • Goosebumps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Aches and increased pain
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating

Mental Side Effects of Methadone Withdrawal 

Commonly co-occurring in opioid drug users and can be characterized by symptoms that occur in primary mental disorders. Such symptoms include depressed mood, persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), and opioid-induced depressive disorder. Opioid withdrawal differs from other opioid-induced disorders because symptoms in other conditions predominate clinical presentation and warrant further diagnostic investigation.

Psychological symptoms of methadone withdrawal are also possible and may last for months or years, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Drug cravings
  • Mood change
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

Both opiate withdrawal and opiate abuse are linked to the development of psychotic symptoms. Psychosis and drug use are dangerous combinations, but they can be treated. Psychosis is defined as a break from reality. It can include delusions, hallucinations, and disordered speech and thinking. Hallucinations are when you perceive things that don’t match objective reality. They can affect most of your senses. For example, you may hear, see, feel, or smell something that isn’t real. Delusions are fixed false beliefs that continue despite evidence to the contrary.

Methadone Withdrawal Psychosis

Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness. It can occur in several conditions, including:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Head injury
  • Brain tumors or cysts
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Major depression
  • Delusional disorder
  • Delusional disorder
  • Substance-induced psychosis
  • Infection
  • Brain diseases like Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease
  • Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Severe stress, anxiety, or lack of sleep

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methadone withdrawal psychosis
Attempts to treat psychosis without treating the co-occurring methadone abuse, or vice versa, are often unsuccessful.

Opiate-Induced Psychosis

Opiates are not typically linked with psychosis. However, people may experience psychotic symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, and irritability while under the influence of opioids or while experiencing withdrawal. opioid withdrawal psychosis symptoms can start within a few days after stopping an opioid. These symptoms typically improve within a couple of weeks, especially with treatment. Treatment can include prescribing an antipsychotic medication like risperidone to ease psychotic symptoms. When psychosis is caused by opioid use, the psychosis may stop immediately if naloxone is administered.

When someone is high and sees things, they can quickly end up in a dangerous situation for others and themselves. They are already thinking irrationally, and if they are having vivid hallucinations, they can, unfortunately, hurt someone else or themselves. To prevent psychotic symptoms and other unpleasant effects of methadone withdrawal, it is important to seek medical assistance when detoxing from an opioid.

Methadone Detox Treatment

Like all opioids, methadone can lead to addiction and overdose. It can be misused like other opioids. It must be taken exactly as a certified Opioid Treatment Program provider directed. This certification must be obtained from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is also important to note that a history of alcohol use, heart and respiratory problems (this begs the question – ” does methadone cause heart problems?”), or mental health issues can cause adverse side effects when taking methadone, including the mental side effects of methadone withdrawal.

Methadone Withdrawal Psychosis
If you have a methadone addiction and a co-occurring mental health issue, and experiencing the effects of methadone withdrawal, you need comprehensive treatment

Methadone addiction can be a bit of a taboo topic, as many people in the medical community see the prescription drug as a necessary aid in helping Heroin addicts recover. But as with any opioid, addiction is an all-too-common side effect. Methadone addiction can come about because the drug eases a user’s pain. As time goes on and tolerance builds, more of the drug is needed for the same effect.

People ending their use of Methadone may benefit from seeking professional medical detoxification services to lessen the effects of methadone withdrawal. Detoxification (detox) is a set of interventions and strategies to effectively treat intoxication and withdrawal. A medically-assisted detox program supervised by medical staff can increase a person’s safety and provide better symptom relief to prevent relapse. A typical treatment with methadone detox is slowly lowering the dose of methadone in a process called weaning or tapering. Some people will be switched from methadone to clonidine at this point, while others will continue to simply receive reduced doses of methadone.

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Methadone Detox Near Me

There is a strong link between mental health and substance abuse. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like depression and anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. These co-occurring disorders can make each other worse without proper treatment.

If you are experiencing methadone withdrawal psychosis, it’s crucial to accurately assess all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.

Medically-Assisted Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of methadone withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete methadone detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of methadone withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Prescription drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for alcohol use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

 If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term prescription drug abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

methadone withdrawal psychosis
Like any other opiate, methadone can lead to severe mental side effects of methadone withdrawal if used long-term and should be adequately and safely detoxed.

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[1] NIH –
[2] NCBI –
[3] SAMHSA –
[4] Methadone Detox Near Me – We Level Up NJ