What is Methadone?
Methadone hydrochloride is often used as part of a medication-assisted treatment program to help people who are dependent on heroin or prescription opioid painkillers. Methadone is an opioid, but since it lasts longer than other opioids, it can be used in the opioid detoxification process to prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms. When methadone is taken as prescribed and used under a professionally developed treatment plan, it’s considered a safe medication. Methadone should only be dispensed in certified facilities to patients in opioid treatment programs.
The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for half of the dose to be eliminated from the body. Methadone generally has a long half-life of eight to 59 hours, highly variable depending on individual factors. It takes about five half-lives for a drug to leave the body completely, so methadone can remain in the system for a long time. Methadone metabolism varies with extended use, which can cause it to stay in the body for even longer periods. Methadone metabolizes extensively, so testing for those metabolites in the body can also show whether someone has been taking methadone.
Factors That Influence How Long Methadone Stays In Your System
Many factors determine how long any substance remains in the body. Methadone is a drug that accumulates, so the more often someone takes it, the more it builds up and the longer it takes to be fully eliminated. Some people have faster metabolisms, so they eliminate medications like methadone more quickly than those with slower metabolic rates. People who are younger, healthier and with higher body weight usually eliminate drugs like methadone more quickly. People with long-term health conditions or kidney or liver dysfunction may take longer eliminating drugs.
How Long Does Methadone Stay in Urine, Hair, Saliva, and Blood?
Methadone will show up in a urine drug test and cause it to be positive for an opioid. It can show up in a drug test for longer than most other drugs. For example, in a urine test methadone or its byproducts may be detected from two to four days after use. This estimate can increase to around seven days in people who have used it for a long time.
In a hair test, methadone can be detected for up to 90 days, which is similar to most other drugs tested this way. Since hair grows slowly, evidence of methadone use can be found for a long time by analyzing hair samples.
Methadone can also be detected in saliva. It can show up for one to three days after ingestion if a person uses methadone occasionally, and for three to five days with long-term use.
A blood test can detect methadone for up to 24 hours after ingestion.
Methadone in Your System: Key Points
Methadone is a long-acting opioid that is frequently used to aid in opioid detoxification for people with opioid dependence or addiction. Some key points about methadone are:
- Methadone can only be dispensed by a certified opioid treatment program
- Methadone has a long half-life, meaning it remains in the body for a long time
- Many individual factors play a role in how long methadone stays in someone’s body
- Methadone can be detected in urine for up to seven days
- Methadone can be detected by hair tests for up to 90 days
- Saliva tests can detect methadone for up to five days
- Blood tests can detect methadone for up to 24 hours
If you or a loved one live with addiction, professional treatment is the safest way to secure a substance-free future. Call The Recovery Village Columbus to speak with a representative about how personalized addiction treatment can secure the healthier future you deserve.
DailyMed. “Methadone Hydrochloride (oral concentrate).” September 2016. Accessed April 30, 2019.
Ontario Health Technology Assessment Services. “Optimum methadone Compliance Testing.” December 2006. Accessed April 30, 2019.
Mayo Clinic Laboratories. “Methadone.” Accessed April 30, 2019.