In cases where individuals are prescribed methadone to assist with withdrawal from other opioids, individuals may be prescribed 10-20 mg for the first few days of detox. Then, the dose will gradually be lowered until the individual is taking 2 mg per day. This helps lessen many of the strongest withdrawal symptoms, such as opioid cravings, nausea, muscle aches, and anxiety. After the individual is on a very low dose of methadone, the prescribing doctor may switch the person to another detox medication, such as naltrexone. Often, methadone is taken in conjunction with naltrexone to ease the person off opioid dependence.
However, if a person has become addicted to methadone, a weaning or tapering approach should still occur, but a doctor may prescribe naltrexone in addition to buprenorphine or anti-anxiety medications. Weaning or tapering should only occur under the supervision of a medical professional who can help the individual regulate doses.
A doctor may prescribe other medications to help wean the individual off methadone, including buprenorphine or clonidine. These medications can ease withdrawal symptoms while preventing methadone or other opioids from binding to the same receptor sites, so methadone will not have an effect. Most medical professionals will help the individual taper the methadone dose over time, at an individual pace, to ease psychological symptoms. Overall, methadone is considered safe to use when supervised by doctors who can regulate the dose and ensure compliance with the treatment plan.