Table of Contents
What is Methadone?
Methadone Clinic is of the various treatment options for help individuals looking to overcome an opioid use disorder. Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist that limits the effects of opioids and diminishes cravings associated with opioid withdrawal.
Methadone was created by two German scientists in the 1930s. The two scientists – Gustav Erhart and Max Bockmhl – were attempting to find a new substance that had the analgesic and pain-relieving properties of morphine, minus the addictive side effects. They synthesized a substance called polyamidon, which was later renamed methadone and brought to the United States in 1947.
When is Methadone Used?
First used for its pain-relieving analgesic effects, many soon noticed methadone’s potency in treating narcotic addiction.
When used for opioid or prescription painkiller addiction, methadone reduces cravings and withdrawal for twenty-four to thirty-six hours. After the initial withdrawal, many with addiction find it critical to reinforce the withdrawal with long-term methadone treatment called methadone maintenance.
Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) typically lasts a minimum of twelve months. Depending on the individual, maintenance treatment length can vary from twelve months to years, if not a lifetime.
What is a Methadone Clinic?
Methadone clinics are facilities certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as accredited Opioid Treatment Programs (OTP) to dispense methadone as a treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Additionally, all OTP’s must be registered as providers with the DEA.
These clinics – also known as Substance Use Disorder Services Clinics – can provide access to other addiction-relieving medications like naltrexone and Suboxone.
There are two types of methadone clinics: private and public. As you might expect, public methadone clinics are cheaper. However, the cost comes with appointment wait times which can extend for months. If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, it might be necessary to choose a more expensive but private option that can accommodate your schedule.
How Do Methadone Clinics Work?
To gain certification from SAMHSA as an accredited OTP, facilities must meet federal requirements. These requirements are in place to verify and standardize the quality of treatment for each patient and include providing:
- An Initial Examination. Regardless of previous documentation, every patient must receive a thorough physical examination to be documented by the program’s supervising physician.
- Adjusted Services for Pregnant Patients. Research has found methadone to be a safe alternative to continued drug use or unaided withdrawal for those who are pregnant. However, clinicians must be able to provide appropriately adjusted services for pregnant patients.
- Counseling and Therapy. Methadone clinics must provide counseling as part of their medication-assisted treatment. This counseling could include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, or other alternatives aimed at achieving habit change and reduce relapse.
- Randomized Drug Tests. OTP’s must conduct eight randomized drug tests annually for each patient to incentivize and ensure patients stay on the road to recovery.
Who is Eligible for Methadone Treatments?
To admit yourself to a methadone treatment center you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve struggled with opioid addiction for at least one year.
This documentation can include:
- A doctor’s note
- A notarized letter confirming opioid use from family or a member of the clergy
- Records of past treatments
- An opioid-related arrest history
- Confirmation from a probation or parole officer
This one-year rule does not apply if you are under eighteen years old, pregnant, or have recently been released from prison.
If you’re under eighteen years of age, you’re able to bypass the one-year requirement if you provide written consent by a parent or guardian or records of two treatment attempts within the past year.
If you are pregnant or were released from prison within the last six months, then OTPs don’t require proof of addiction for the past year.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) combines medication with behavioral therapies and counseling to create a full-scale approach that seeks to treat the whole patient.1
MAT programs are clinically proven to be highly effective and are customized to meet the individual needs of each patient. Additionally, MAT programs significantly lessen the need for inpatient detoxification services, and they show a direct correlation to a reduced rate of contracting drug-associated diseases like HIV and Hep C.2
Different addictions benefit from differing medication-assisted treatments. MAT programs for alcohol use disorder use disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone.3 MAT programs for opioid dependency use buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.
How is Methadone Treatment Administered?
After your initial assessment to screen for any additional underlying issues that could interfere with methadone treatment, patients may receive their first treatment that day.
Methadone treatments typically come in the form of pills, sublingual tablets, a drinkable version called Methadose, and Diskets® (also known as biscuits or wafers).
Methadone treatment must be administered at the facility for the first ninety days under the supervision of a nurse or certified care provider. Patients must visit the clinic daily to receive their medication, except when the clinic is closed. During this period, patients may receive additional methadone treatments to hold them over till the clinic reopens.
Once you have met the clinic’s guidelines, you may be granted permission to self-administer methadone from home. As patients demonstrate accountability and reliability in their recovery, the number of methadone treatments they may take home increases, up to a maximum of one month.
When Should You Seek Out Methadone Treatment?
As of 2018, SAMHSA found an estimated 2 million people were struggling with opioid use disorder. Methadone treatments provide relief from addictive opioid cravings and block the positive, euphoria-inducing effects of opioids like heroin and those found in painkillers that increase relapse.
If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, methadone treatment is an effective and safe method when carried out according to your physician’s instructions.
Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction can be very serious, and if left unchecked can lead to severe health ramifications.
Signs of drug addiction include:4
- Experiencing strong cravings
- Needing higher doses or frequency of drug to attain and maintain previous effects
- Distancing yourself from relationships with family and friends
- No longer finding pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Prioritizing drug-seeking behavior over responsibilities
- Making mistakes at work or school because of opioid use
- Trying to lessen or halt opioid use, but without success
Additionally, opioid addiction can create side effects like:5
- Slowed or irregular breathing
- Bone or muscle pain
- Severe cravings
- Issues with sleep
- Cold flashes paired with goosebumps
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Uncontrollable leg movements
Drug Addictions Commonly Treated with Methadone
In addition to providing pain relief, methadone is typically used to treat opioid addictions. Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers (oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine), synthetic opioids (fentanyl), and other well-known opioids (heroin).
The most common drug addictions treated with methadone include:
- Oxycodone and Hydrocodone
Other Treatments Available in Methadone Clinics
As part of their OTP certification by SAMHSA, methadone clinics must also provide counseling and behavior change therapies. Counseling can take many forms, including group therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Group therapy creates a safe space where patients can build their confidence in accepting their addiction and addressing potential relapse triggers from the safety and support of their peers.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy centers on the relationship between a person’s pattern of thoughts and habituated actions. CBT aims to rewrite our thoughts to create healthier habits and embrace coping mechanisms for when we encounter triggering events and emotions.
Risks of Methadone Treatment
As with any drug used without physician supervision, there are inherent side effects from using methadone.
Common Methadone Side Effects
- Dry mouth
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Urine retention
- Gastrointestinal distress
Methadone side effects are typically limited to the symptoms listed above. However, methadone use without physician instruction can lead to addiction and severe side effects during methadone withdrawal.
Symptoms of Abuse and Methadone Withdrawal
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Slowed breathing and depressed respiratory function
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heavy Sweating
When to Avoid Methadone
One should avoid combining methadone treatment with alcohol, drugs that impact your serotonin levels, and drugs that slow your breathing or make you drowsy.
Different drugs impact the efficacy and risks of methadone, so it is critical to inform your physician of all current medications and to practice safe use when taking your methadone treatments.
How to Find a Methadone Clinic Near Me
With over 1500 methadone clinics in the United States, there are plenty of options out there so you can begin your healing journey. To figure out which clinic is right for you, there are a few points to consider.
- Proximity: Because methadone treatment requires physician supervision for at least the first ninety days of treatment, it is vital to find a clinic that is easy for you to get to every day. A quick Google search can help you easily locate the clinics closest to you.
- Flexibility: The best programs understand that addiction treatment is not a one-size-fits-all process. Finding a clinic that understands your experience and makes you feel comfortable is key to achieving and maintaining recovery.
- Insurance: Most clinics accept both private and public insurance like Medicare and Medicaid. However, it is always best to double-check to make sure a clinic will accept your insurance before making your way out there.