While many people know what a methadone clinic is, very few individuals know exactly how methadone clinics work and what to expect when going to a methadone clinic. A methadone clinic is one of the many treatment options for a person addicted to opioids. Medical professionals work to help people in the early stages of recovery and can assist in the detox and initial treatment process.
What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a drug that is most commonly used in the treatment of opioid addiction. As a Schedule II substance, this medication is only available through a prescription and is highly regulated by the FDA.
This drug works by blocking the euphoric effects of opioids like heroin to help prevent individuals from relapsing once they quit opioids. Methadone also helps to reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal and can provide pain relief. This drug is a long-acting opioid agonist and can work for up to 36 hours. While methadone is considered an opioid, it does not provide the euphoric effects that other opioids do when taken as prescribed.
While not a cure for opioid addiction, it can significantly improve a person’s chances of recovery from an opioid use disorder. However, methadone treatment alone is not a sufficient form of recovery. Rather, methadone treatment is often used as part of a comprehensive addiction program that also includes various other treatment components.
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How Do Methadone Clinics Work?
People who are struggling to overcome an addiction to opioids can go to a methadone clinic for treatment. Many clinics do not require prior authorization and allow walk-ins. When a person first goes to a methadone clinic, he or she will go through a series of in-depth assessments and tests to determine his or her eligibility for methadone treatment.
If a person is eligible to receive methadone treatment, he or she will be given a customized program of recovery based on his or her unique needs and level of addiction. Methadone will be administered by medical professionals, and patients are often required to go into the clinic every day to receive their dose of methadone. Some clinics may allow patients to take home doses if the individuals have earned this privilege and proven they can responsibly take the drug.
A person participating in a methadone treatment program may experience the following benefits:
- reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms
- reduced cravings for opioids
- inability to feel pleasure from taking opioids which promotes sobriety
- ability to function normally without abusing opioids
Someone who enters a methadone clinic treatment program must commit to a long-term program of recovery. Many methadone clinics also require individuals to participate in other forms of treatment like therapy.
Who Can Participate In Methadone Treatment?
Only people who meet certain requirements are able to participate in a methadone clinic treatment program. Individuals who can receive treatment must be physically addicted to opioids and must have struggled with opioid addiction for at least a year prior to seeking treatment.
Ways in which opioid addiction can be proven include:
- doctor’s recommendation describing the opioid addiction
- records of previous opioid addiction treatment received
- a notarized letter from a member of the clergy or a family member testifying to the individual’s opioid addiction
- arrest records for opioid possession or use
- confirmation letter from a parole officer
Individuals under the age of 18 are typically not accepted into methadone clinic treatment programs unless there is proof of previous treatment attempts or written consent from a guardian or parent.
Additionally, women who are pregnant or individuals who have recently gotten out of prison are eligible for methadone treatment without meeting the one-year requirement. People who have received treatment a methadone clinic previously may also be able to bypass the one-year requirement of opioid addiction.
The Stages Of Methadone Treatment At A Clinic
When a person enters into a treatment program at a methadone clinic, he or she will go through a number of treatment stages to ensure the patient’s needs are being met. Many methadone programs operate in a similar manner but may vary slightly in the treatment methods offered.
The following are the primary stages of methadone treatment:
- Assessment And Consultation — Before a person can begin receiving methadone treatment, he or she must first go through an extensive assessment. This may include a physical assessment as well as drug screening. Patients will also receive a consultation with a doctor to determine the best course of action for their needs.
- Stabilization — This stage of methadone treatment is when a person first begins taking methadone. He or she will receive a dose between 10 and 30 milligrams for several days and then will evaluate how the treatment is working with his or her doctor. If withdrawal symptoms and cravings are still present, the dose of methadone may be increased.
- Maintenance — Once a maintenance dose has been established, the patient will continue to take this dose for several months until opioids can be stopped completely.
Some clinics may give patients take-home doses so that they don’t have to go into the clinic every day. However, patients must earn this privilege over several months.
How To Find A Methadone Clinic That’s Right For You
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, a treatment program at a methadone clinic may be an option to consider. There are several methadone clinics throughout the nation that can help you overcome an opioid use disorder and reclaim your life in sobriety.
If you would like to learn more about what to expect at a methadone clinic or to discuss your treatment options, contact an Vertava Health treatment specialist today.