METHADONE CLINIC

Methadone Clinic for the Treatment of Opioid, Heroin and Prescription Drug Addiction

What is a methadone clinic?

A methadone clinic is a treatment facility for a person addicted to opioid drugs, like heroin or prescription painkillers. Methadone clinics are also known as Opioid Treatment Programs (OTP). Patients receive treatment medication, such as methadone, to stabilize the body from unbearable withdrawal symptoms in order for the patient to receive meaningful and lasting recovery therapy. Methadone is an opioid analgesic that offers patients a tolerable method for withdrawing from illegal opioids and promotes the continued resistance to returning to illicit drugs.

What is the treatment plan at a methadone clinic?

Methadone must be administered and monitored by medical professionals. Medication-assisted treatment is paired with counseling services in order to provide the patient a comprehensive approach to long-term recovery.

Each patient’s care is uniquely tailored to their needs. Factors include which type of illicit drug was being used, how long the illegal drug was being taken, any present co-occuring medical disorders and each patient’s personal response to the treatment.

How are patients cared for at a methadone clinic?

Individuals who are prescribed methadone for opioid addiction experience neither the cravings for the illicit opioid nor the euphoric rush typically associated with use of the illegal drug. Methadone, a legal treatment medication in the U.S. since 1947, suppresses drug withdrawal symptoms for 24- to 36-hours, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center’s Methadone Fast Facts.

In addition to methadone therapy, patients attend counseling sessions. Counseling prevents drug relapse, and helps patients deal with stress, repair personal relationships and rebuild professional goals. Group, family and one-on-one counseling sessions are offered for the comprehensive treatment and recovery of the patient.

Some patients respond to treatment almost immediately, while others take more time to reach stability.

What are the benefits of being treated at a methadone clinic?

Patients who were addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers experience the following benefits when treated with methadone therapy in conjunction with professional counseling services:

  • Cessation of opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduction in opioid cravings
  • Decline of the undesirable effects of illegal opioids
  • Stopping of the physical need for opioid substances so they can achieve a successful recovery

Why is methadone the best treatment medication for opioid dependency?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse set forth the of Drug Addiction Treatment that says methadone is the preferred method of treatment for opioid dependency when combined with other protocols:

  1. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT): Treatment medications, when used as prescribed by a licensed physician, block how illicit opioids affect the brain to cease drug cravings and dependencies. Methadone is the most widely-used treatment medication due to its effectiveness and affordability. Buprenorphine and Suboxone relieve drug cravings with fewer side effects than methadone and are recommended for patients with a lower dependence on illegal opioids for a shorter period of time. Naltrexone is a nonaddictive substance that blocks the effects of opioids and does not cause physical dependence. Vivitrol, an injectable form of naltrexone, is administered monthly rather than daily like most opioid treatment drugs. Naltrexone should be used only in patients who have already been detoxified.
  2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) prevents addiction relapse. Individuals in CBT learn to identify and correct problematic behaviors by applying a range of different skills that can be used to stop drug abuse and to address a range of other problems that often co-occur with it. A central element of CBT is anticipating likely problems and enhancing a patient’s self-control. Patients explore the positive and negative consequences of continued drug use. They self-monitor to recognize cravings early and identify situations that might put one at risk for use. Patients also develop strategies for coping with cravings and avoiding those high-risk situations. Research indicates that the skills individuals learn through cognitive-behavioral approaches remain after the completion of treatment.
  3. Recovery Support Services (RSS): The services, such as child care, housing and transportation, promote a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of relapse and help those affected by opioid use disorder maintain recovery. Individuals who participate in opioid use disorder treatment in combination with RSS typically have better long-term recovery outcomes than individuals who receive either alone.

The protocols listed above can be further researched in Chapter 4 of the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, specifically outlined on pages 4-19 to 4-31.

What happens during an initial visit to a methadone clinic for a new patient?

On the first day, patients discuss their overall health and drug use history with a healthcare provider at their local treatment center. Individuals will be given a blood and urinalysis tests. Medical professionals review a patient’s health history and current condition to prescribe an individualized treatment plan.

Patients may receive treatment medication on their initial visit to the clinic. A patient needs to be showing signs of withdrawal so that the right medication level is administered to stabilize the patient.

The medical staff informs the patient about the treatment program, sets goals for the patient and establishes guidelines for the patient’s safety and success.

Patients are initially required to visit the methadone clinic every day to receive their dose of treatment medication and counseling session(s). When a patient demonstrates long-term stability and dependability, he or she may be granted take-home medication privileges and visit the clinic only for periodic checkups.

Who plays a role in a patient’s recovery at a methadone clinic?

Medical professionals, like physicians, nurses and counselors, will be present at a methadone clinic. Administrative and business personnel will also be on hand for the daily operations and functions of the office.

Spouses, partners, family members and friends are encouraged to help a patient throughout the duration of their treatment and recovery. Family members and friends are allowed to accompany a patient, if the patient agrees, to any appointment at any time.

How do I find the right methadone clinic?

It’s important to find an experienced and reputable medical treatment facility that’s accredited, licensed, and following the federal, state and local protocols for methadone clinics.

The clinic should offer various support services, like counseling and community connection resources, as these are key parts of the recovery process.

Potential patients can start by researching a methadone clinic’s online reputation. Upon visiting a facility, people should feel comfortable with the clinic’s staff members and treatment program. The clinic should present a clean and supportive environment.

The clinic should be convenient for an individual with accommodating business hours, as patients will initially spend every day at the clinic.

Patients seeking these services and more should consider the U.S.’ leading provider of treatment and recovery for patients with opioid use disorder. To find a New Season Treatment Center near you, go to Clinic Locations.