How I Got off Methadone
April 25th, 2019 was the last time I ever went to a methadone clinic. I was scheduled to go to rehab later that day at Narconon, in Louisiana. I took my dose (145 mg), popped a couple .50 mg Xanax and boarded my plane at LAX. What came next was the closest I’ve ever been to hell since I’ve been alive.
A quick description of myself: I’m 24 years old, male, roughly 160 lbs., 6 feet tall, from Los Angeles, California. I’m healthy, have no physical restrictions, and am free of any serious diseases. I was on methadone for approximately two years, and towards the end (last few months) I was using Xanax (2-4 mg a day minimum) to compound my massive 145 mg methadone dose. Going to rehab for my detox was a moment of fear and relief. Relief in the sense I knew I would eventually be off methadone but fear because I knew how painful that would be. And painful it was.
The first few days were the easiest. Having been on methadone for so long, I had a solid 3-4 days before the most brutal symptoms set in. That being said, I still had to deal with the unbelievable anxiety from lack of benzos and no more daily methadone doses.
I was given something to prevent a seizure, and vitamins to keep me as healthy as possible. I had zero appetite and didn’t eat a single thing for almost four days. The idea of food was almost enough to make me gag, and even though this was all just part of the detox, there were times I was sure I’d never eat again.
The goose flesh came first with my body temperature desperately trying to regulate itself. It felt like someone was constantly turning my internal thermostat up and down. One moment I was sweating in a completely air-conditioned room and the next I was shivering in 90-degree heat while wearing a hoodie.
This was followed by nausea. Imagine being trapped on a small fishing vessel during rough seas with the rancid stench of rotting fish in the air while you constantly work to keep your balance during a heavy storm. My stomach churned nonstop, compounded by the equally uncomfortable sensations one experiences during opiate withdrawal—yawning repeatedly, depression, anxiety, muscle aches, and of course, restlessness. Anyone who’s ever been through withdrawal knows the unbearable, skin-peeling, feeling of wanting to jump out of your skeleton for just a moment of relief. Magnify that feeling by one hundred and you’ll start to get an understanding of how I felt every second of every day for three weeks.
“It’s almost three months later and today I feel like a new man.”
Throughout the detox, I had some of the more uncomfortable symptoms—goose flesh, chills, nausea, aches, and of course restlessness. My sleep was nightmarish and feverish, waking up throughout the night coated in a fresh layer of sweat. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I was starving but couldn’t eat. I was depressed and I cried randomly for no reason at all. I sat in the corner of the room, making a feeble attempt to read while my food bounced uncontrollably. I was defeated—physically and emotionally.
It’s almost three months later and today I feel like a new man. It may not be much comfort if you’re reading this and debating the idea of trying to get off methadone but I can say to anyone reading this that it is possible. Despite whatever reservations you may have, any reasons you’re telling yourself you can’t, you absolutely can. I won’t tell you it’s going to be easy, but nothing worth having ever is. All I’m telling you, the reader, is that if you’re truly finished with being chained to a device so devastatingly powerful as methadone, you possess the strength to cut it loose.
I was convinced I didn’t possess that strength, but I did, and it was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life.
I regret nothing, and never intend to fall back into that cycle of madness. I still have some wild post-acute symptoms (appetite, sleep, etc.) but it’s more than bearable. Someone once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Never has that rung truer for me than when I was going through my detox.