A majority of clients who enter methadone programs do so without immediate family involvement in the admissions process. Often, a significant other knows of their loved one’s decision to enter treatment, but chooses to remain “on the outside”. There are several reasons for this including: apprehension about methadone clinics, feelings of embarrassment that their loved one has an opioid addiction, not wanting to invest time in the recovery process, or simply being too busy to spare the time.
Consequently, clients enrolling in methadone treatment programs typically go it alone early on. It is of course highly beneficial for each client to have some outside support, encouragement, and to be able to share their recovery journey with someone who cares about their struggles and progress.
I have found that many family just do not understand opioid addiction or the enormous benefit that medication-assisted treatment provides to those who are embarking on the journey of early recovery. There exist a notable social bias too against methadone which is born almost exclusively out of a lack of education on methadone’s efficacy as a medically-approved form of treatment for opioid addiction.
As has been stated on this website, the media have done an extremely poor job of reporting the widespread benefits of methadone as a useful opioid replacement medication. These factors sometimes steer families in the direction of harboring critical views & fears about methadone (or buprenorphine) as a legitimate addiction intervention. Where there is fear of something (whether justified or not), there usually exists detachment from, and a negative view of, that which is feared.
I have had the fortunate experience of meeting families, educating them on methadone as a recovery tool, and being able to answer questions about our methadone program. This face to face contact almost always builds a bridge by demystifying methadone and what it represents in the addiction recovery process. Education, knowledge, and trust consistently replace ignorance, fear, and negative social stigmas. When a family member comes to understand how methadone works and how it is part of a larger recovery effort, that person then becomes part of the recovery solution. Recovering individuals need this acceptance and family support. It is so very valuable.
Educating the family on methadone treatment can be accomplished in a variety of ways. A pamphlet, a phone call, inviting them to a family counseling session, or referring them to a fact-based website on methadone’s purpose. Helping families understand addiction and addiction solutions is always a worthwhile effort.