How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your System?

drug test for methadone in your system

Methadone is a medication that is sometimes used in the treatment of opioid dependency or pain. As a long-acting medication, methadone stays in your system for up to two weeks after the last time you use the drug. However, there are several different factors that go into how long methadone stays in the body and for how long it can be detected on drug screenings.

The most common use of methadone in the United States is in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for opioid addiction. Although methadone is typically prescribed at treatment centers, it is also used to treat people who don’t respond to other types of opioid pain medications. It is fairly safe when used correctly, however, people who abuse methadone may be concerned about passing a drug test.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is an opioid medication that helps treat pain and reduce opioid and heroin withdrawal symptoms. The drug is also available under the brand names Methadose and Dolophine and the medication is usually prescribed in tablet form. As a narcotic, the drug works by reducing the nervous system’s response to pain. This makes the medication useful in people with chronic pain who do not respond to other medications and in people struggling with opioid withdrawal.[1]

Methadone is helpful in opioid recovery treatment because it can effectively block the high produced by addictive drugs like heroin, hydrocodone, and morphine. When used long-term, the body will become dependent on methadone, so users who try and quit cold-turkey will experience withdrawal symptoms until the drug is fully eliminated from the body. On the other hand, some drug users crush and snort or inject methadone to get high. These individuals may also get addicted to the drug and suffer methadone withdrawal until the drug is eliminated from the system.

What Determines How Long Methadone Stays in Your System?

Although methadone is usually eliminated from your system after two weeks, traces of the drug found in its metabolites can remain in your system for far longer. And, depending on the type of drug test used, methadone may appear to stay in your system for various lengths of time. In addition, there are several factors that influence how long methadone stays in your system, such as metabolism, age, weight, and history of drug use.[2] Let’s take a look at how these factors dictate the length of time it takes for methadone to leave your system.

  • Age, weight, and gender – Metabolism plays a huge role in how fast drugs leave your system. Young people, people with healthy body weight, and men all tend to process drugs faster. As a result, individuals who are older, overweight, or female may take longer to eliminate methadone from their system.
  • Length of methadone use and regular dosing schedule – The frequency and quantity at which a person uses a drug will impact how long it stays in their system. For example, someone who has been using a high dose of methadone on a daily basis for four years will require more time to eliminate it from their body than someone who has only taken methadone at a low dose for one week.
  • Overall health and function of the kidneys and liver – The liver and kidneys work hand in hand to eliminate substances from the body. As a result, people with poor kidney or liver function may take longer to process methadone and eliminate it from their body.

The half-life of methadone is also important to understand. Half-life is how long it takes for half of a substance to be eliminated from the system. It generally takes 4-6 half-lives for a substance to be considered eliminated. When it comes to methadone, the half-life gets complicated. Someone who is used to taking opioids may require a half-life of 24 hours, while someone who isn’t used to taking opioids will require a half-life of up to 55 hours.[3]

Ultimately, there is no set-in-stone answer to how long methadone stays in your system. There are too many factors at play and every individual is different.

How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your Urine, Blood, Hair, and Saliva?

There are four different types of drug tests that may be used to detect methadone in your system. While urine tests are the most common, others include blood, hair follicle, and saliva tests. Each test has a different detection window during which it will detect methadone metabolites. If a person doesn’t have enough metabolites in their body, they will test negative for methadone.

So, how long does methadone stay in your system? Well, it can stay in your system for up to two weeks – but some drug tests can detect it for longer than that. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of drug tests and approximately how long each will detect methadone.

  • Urinalysis – Urine tests are the most widely used type of drug test. Methadone can be detected in urine anywhere between 1 hour after initial consumption and 2 weeks after the last use.
  • Blood test – Blood tests are rarely used because they are considered invasive as far as drug tests go. However, methadone can be detected in your blood between 30 minutes after consumption and 4 days after your last use.
  • Hair follicle test – Hair tests have the longest detection window of all drug tests. Methadone may be detected in their hair follicle for several months after consuming the drug.
  • Saliva test – Saliva tests are rarely used because they have a very short detection period. Methadone can only be detected in your saliva for a couple of days after the last use.

It’s important to note that these are only estimates. Each test can vary, and each individual’s body and metabolism are different, so methadone may stay in a person’s system for varying lengths of time. As a general rule of thumb, methadone is completely eliminated from the body after 14 days.

That being said, if you are concerned about passing a drug test because you have been abusing methadone, it may be time to consider seeking help from a professional treatment program. If you can’t stop methadone on your own, a drug rehab center can help teach you how.

Find Treatment for Methadone Addiction Today

Substance abuse can be difficult to overcome alone. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. With the help of a trusted rehab center and a support group, you can recover from methadone abuse. If you or a loved one are addicted to methadone, contact us today to learn about your addiction treatment options.

References:

  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/017116s021lbl.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/
  3. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-meth-toc~drugtreat-pubs-meth-s

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.