Drug Testing for Methadone: How Long Does Methadone Stay In Your System?

Clinical Reviewer

Drug testing for methadone is uncommon, but methadone can be detected if specifically requested on a urine screen and on all other types of drug screens.

For those reading this worried about an upcoming drug test that specifically tests for illicit methadone, getting into a methadone program can help your case. (And, it might help you quit illicit drug use for good too).

  In This Article

Does Methadone Show Up On A Drug Test?

Although methadone is a synthetic opioid, its structure is distinct enough to not show up in standard urine drug tests or even 7-panel tests for opiates such as morphine and heroin.

Methadone must be specifically included on a drug test to show up.

Methadone is most often tested for in a secondary drug screen if a standard screen comes back negative and proving drug use is important.

Employment Drug Screens

Methadone would NOT be included on a standard employment drug test unless the job requires the operation of heavy machinery or driving or the employer is the military or the Department Of Transportation (DOT).​

Criminal, Probation or Legal Drug Screens​

Methadone may be included on a secondary drug screen in legal settings if nothing flags on a standard drug screen or if methadone is specifically identified as an issue.

For example, if a spouse knows about illicit methadone use and attempts to show character or safety issues in a custody case. Or, possibly in cases of DUI, where it depends on whether the medication affecting driving and if taken as prescribed.

Addiction Treatment Drug Screens

Inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment centers should test for methadone. This can impact your detox plan or yield consequences in an abstinence-based treatment program. (Here, we work with patients even if illicit methadone use is flagged).

Newborn Drug Screens​

Methadone is included on a newborn toxicology report. (See also drug testing during pregnancy).

All drug test types can detect methadone use if methadone is specifically tested for (urine, hair, saliva and blood).

What Type of Drug Tests Can Detect Methadone?

How Long Does Methadone Stay in Your System?

Methadone can be detected within 30 minutes of dosing and remains detectable for at least several days or even up to several months, depending on the testing type. 

Drug Testing Windows for Methadone

Test Type Time Detectable
Urine 2-12 Days
Hair Several Months
Saliva Several Days
Blood Several Days

How fast methadone can process through the body depends on both the usage of methadone and the individual’s body functions. For opioid-dependent patients, it can take 11-18 days to completely eliminate methadone. For chronic pain patients, it could be even longer, up to 28 days.  Methadone can remain in the system, but not be detectable on a drug test.

Methadone Detection By Drug Test Type

On average, it takes 7-8 days after stopping methadone for it to completely leave the body, but it could be as little as 2 days or take up to 12 days to become undetectable on a drug screen.

Most methadone is removed from the body in the urine, smaller amounts are eliminated through feces and sweat. With methadone maintenance, the medication can accumulate in tissues and fat cells, which is why it may still be detected for almost two weeks, long after the effects have worn off.

Methadone is thought to be detectable in a urine drug test within an hour of dosing.

Hair tests are the best option to see whether someone has used methadone over a longer period. It can take days or even weeks for methadone to accumulate in the hair, but a hair test can detect methadone for up to several months after the use.

Saliva tests aren’t very common but can detect methadone use 30 minutes after dosing and for several days after.  Levels of methadone in the blood are highest within four hours of dosing. (Urine tests detect methadone for a longer window). 

Blood tests are rare and share a similar testing window as saliva tests. Both tests detect only several days back, while a urine test can detect methadone even if stopped over a week prior.

Factors For How Fast Methadone Can Be Processed

These factors are why there isn’t one single answer to how long it takes methadone to process through someone’s body and account for the faster and longer end of the ranges above.

How to Clear Methadone from Your System Faster

Though the tips below show evidence of slightly speeding up the process, time is the only full-proof way to clear methadone out of your system.

1. Eat Specific Foods

Studies show acidic urine clears methadone faster. You can make your urine more acidic by avoiding citrus fruits and dairy and instead eating more protein, cranberries, plums and prunes. Cranberry juice with added vitamin c can be especially helpful.

Since methadone is stored in fat cells, avoiding foods high in fat is recommended as a healthy choice anyway. 

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration can cause methadone to be reabsorbed instead of eliminated in the urine, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

3. Get Exercise

Cardio exercise speeds up metabolism, burns fat and increases blood flow to the liver, which can all help clear methadone a bit faster.

What About "Cleansing" Products?

There are drugs known to speed up metabolism, which may also speed up the elimination of methadone. 

St. John’s Wort is one over-the-counter example. While it is generally thought to be safe for most people to take this supplement for up to 12 weeks, it is unlikely to have a noticeable effect on methadone clearance and can interact with medications like antidepressants and birth control.

What Happens If You Fail A Drug Test At A Methadone Clinic?

What happens if you test positive for other opioids during maintenance at a methadone clinic depends on the clinic. Patients may get kicked out, though clinics should always help in transferring or tapering off methadone before discharging a patient.

At Symetria, we work with patients. If at the beginning we can help patients cut back on their use or stop IV use, that’s still a step forward.

If you’re interested in a methadone program that meets you where you’re at, we have locations across Illinois and Texas.

Ready for a Methadone Program?

Symetria doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the field.

Bellward, G. D., Warren, P. M., Howald, W., Axelson, J. E., & Abbott, F. S. (1977). Methadone maintenance: Effect of urinary pH on renal clearance in chronic high and low doses. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics22(1), 92–99. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpt197722192

Jarvis, M. A. E., Wu-Pong, S., Kniseley, J. S., & Schnoll, S. H. (1999). Alterations in Methadone Metabolism During Late Pregnancy. Journal of Addictive Diseases18(4), 51–61. https://doi.org/10.1300/j069v18n04_05

St. John’s Wort. (2016). Retrieved October 24, 2022, from NCCIH website: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/st-johns-wort

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18 Comments

  • I looked up heroin can stay in system for 2 to 7 days. I tested myself after 7 days and was still positive. Now, I’m looking up methadone and it’s saying 2 weeks in a urine. Can I please get correct information? I’m going for a medical for a job in a month and want to know how long methadone and suboxone stay in your urine.

    1. Methadone is tricky because it depends on how long you have been on it and how high of a dose. In general, methadone and its metabolites will stay in your urine for less than 7 days, unless you have been on it for years and/or taking a high dosage. In that situation, the methadone and/or metabolites may stay in your urine for longer than 7 days. Suboxone can stay in your urine for up to 7 days.

    1. Both methadone and Suboxone are helpful medications. Patients sometimes make the switch if they are experiencing side effects or if required for employment or probation.

  • My boyfriend has been coming up positive for methadone using a saliva test. He does NOT take methadone but I am on 60mg per day for many years for chronic pain. We’ve been wracking our brains trying to figure out how he is getting exposed. (I keep a strict count of my pills so I know he’s not getting any from me). Is there a way that he may be exposed by contact (like my sweat, etc)?. He dips snuff daily and I’m wondering when he removes if from his mouth, that contact with his fingers is transferring some methadone that he’s gets from coming in contact with my sweat such as handling our car’s steering wheel or just by touching my skin. Is this possible?

    1. Theoretically, yes, it is possible that he is getting exposed by contact, but it would have to be a significant amount (wouldn’t be from sweat, skin-to-skin contact, or touching the same steering wheel). Methadone can be easily detected via a saliva test. If your saliva is in his mouth when he performs the test (i.e. through means of deep kissing), then the result can be positive. I’d recommend he not perform any saliva tests for at least 1 hour after any intimate activities with you, and to have him rinse his mouth out with water first before performing the saliva test, to make sure he is getting an accurate test of his own saliva instead of yours.

    1. Yes. Both pill and liquid forms are being absorbed through your gastrointestinal tract into your bloodstream, metabolized by the liver, and then excreted by your kidneys into your urine.

  • If your testing for methadose and take 10 milligrams of methadone pill
    Will it show up in your drug test that give at clinic

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