How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your System?

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on March 11, 2023

Methadone is a long-acting opioid used for pain relief and the treatment of opioid use disorder. It is generally detectable in the body for up to 10-12 days after a person’s last dose, though this can vary significantly from person to person.

Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to manage moderate-to-severe pain and chronic pain, as well as opioid addiction. It is available under several brand names:

  • Dolophine
  • Methadone HCl Intensol
  • Methadose

In contrast with other opioid pain medications, methadone is long acting, allowing it to relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. However, this also means that methadone can be detected in the human body for an unusually long amount of time after it is used.

Methadone Drug Tests & Detection Times

Standard drug tests can detect methadone use in different bodily tissues for varying amounts of time after the drug was taken.

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your Urine?

Urine testing, the most common option for drug testing, can detect methadone use for around 12 days after ingestion.

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your Blood?

Blood testing is highly reliable but uncommon, invasive, and expensive. And it can only detect the use of methadone for a few hours after the last use.

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your Saliva?

Saliva testing offers a much longer detection window of up to ten days.

How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your Hair?

Hair tests for drug use are uncommon and can be unreliable, but may also detect a regular pattern of methadone use for up to 90 days after a person’s last dose.

Methadone Half-Life

The elimination half-life of any drug describes the amount of time it takes for one half a dose to be removed from the body.

The half-life for a single dose of methadone is around 30 hours in opioid-dependent individuals and can be more than 50 hours in those who do not currently have a physiological tolerance to opioids.

A drug’s effects will wear off before the drug is fully metabolized, and it can sometimes 5-6 half-lives for a substance to be fully removed from the body’s tissues (with exceptions). This is around two weeks in the case of methadone.

Methadone Length Of Effect

A single dose of methadone will have effects that begin within thirty minutes and last for around six hours. However, as the drug builds up in a person’s system with prolonged use, the effects of a person’s last dose will last longer and longer, up to thirty-six hours after going off the drug.

Factors That May Influence Methadone Detection Times

Many factors influence how long methadone stays in a person’s body, and how long it can be detected by a drug test after a person’s last use:

  • how long methadone use has continued
  • a person’s dosage and frequency of use
  • age
  • physical size
  • body composition
  • liver and kidney health
  • basal metabolic rate

In general, the younger and healthier you are, and the less methadone you’ve been taking, the more quickly methadone drug tests will read negative.

Side Effects Of Methadone Abuse

Any use of methadone can cause common side effects that are generally manageable and improve with time.

However, these side effects are more likely to occur when methadone is abused. This can include taking methadone in other ways than directed, or mixing methadone with other substances to increase its effect.

Side effects of methadone abuse may include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • constipation
  • stomach or abdominal pain
  • drowsiness
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • dry mouth
  • loss of appetite

Benefits & Risks Of Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Methadone maintenance treatment (a form of medication-assisted treatment or MAT) is a proven, effective option for treating opioid use disorder.

MAT patients who have developed a physical dependence on fentanyl, heroin, OxyContin, and other opioid/opiate painkillers can take methadone and experience relief from cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone Risks

However, methadone can be abused for its own euphoric properties, especially by those who are not already dependent on an opioid. This can lead to methadone addiction.

Methadone use can also cause dependence and, eventually, prolonged methadone withdrawal symptoms which are best managed through a very gradual tapering/detox program.

Methadone overdoses and central nervous system depression/respiratory depression are also possible, especially when a person’s substance abuse involves more than one drug.

And, unlike Suboxone (buprenorphine), methadone is only available from specific distribution centers, not from local healthcare providers.

If you live with substance use disorder, our leading inpatient treatment programs can help. To learn more, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — How effective are medications to treat opioid use disorder?
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Methadone
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — What is Methadone?

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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