Category Archives: Methadone Maintenance

Making A New Start

methadone-graphicA study by the government agency SAMHSA indicated there were approximately 254,000 patients receiving methadone for opioid addiction in 2006. In 2015, it is most likely that number is much higher given the prevalence of opioid addiction and the continued expansion of outpatient opioid treatment services in the United States. Today, there are considerably more methadone clinics and suboxone-approved physicians than there were a decade ago.

Making a new start with medication-assisted treatment is what hundreds of people across the country are deciding to do for themselves every week. Addiction is a progressive illness – one in which a person’s ability to choose is severely compromised. Medication-assisted treatment using either methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone) provides an important open door to a more responsible, quality life.

A majority of individuals suffering with opioid addiction (particularly when the illness spans years) have experienced dramatic brain changes which deepened their physiological dependency on opiates. This physical dependency is not easily removed. It is severe and persistent thus leading the person to do whatever is necessary to avoid being sick from opioid withdrawal.

Most long-term addicted individuals will tell you they rarely, if ever, get high from the illicit substances they use. They are simply trying to avoid being sick from debilitating opioid withdrawal symptoms. When a patient chooses to receive methadone or buprenorphine under the supervision of a doctor, they are making a decision to face their illness and to do something constructive about it.

As a family or friend, it is very helpful to gain an understanding of addiction and how medication-assisted treatment can be life changing for a person stuck in the cycle of opiate addiction.

Making a new start can be a bit frightening. Will methadone work for me? Will my loved ones condemn me? What about my job, or my legal situation? It becomes easy to put off making a decision when so many questions come into play.

It is important to remember that the road to recovery begins with just one step forward. That step will lead to another and another. This new start is always available. The message is one of hope and opportunity. Opiate addiction is a treatable illness. Medication-assistance can make a real difference.

Acadia Healthcare Opioid Treatment Programs

Acadia HealthcareAcadia is a large U.S. based company who provide a broad range of behavioral healthcare services that target mental health and substance abuse problems in children, teenagers, and adults.

Their inpatient facilities provide approximately 9200 beds in 37 states including the United States, United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico. The company’s outpatient addiction services specialize in opioid addiction and medication-assisted treatment for those suffering with heroin and other opioid dependencies. Each Acadia clinic utilizes methadone and suboxone in their overall treatment.

Acadia recently acquired CRC Health Group and in so doing raised their total number of opioid treatment programs to about 90 – currently making them the single largest provider in the United States.

Acadia just added 10 more clinics to Methadone.US and site visitors can find more information about Acadia’s Opioid Treatment Programs by visiting these recently added cities on the Methadone.US website:

Committing Yourself To Recovery From Addiction

mental-healthDrug and alcohol addiction are treatable illnesses. They can be successfully managed and “arrested” such that they do not continue to harm a person’s life or compromise their health. Just as with any progressive illness, a patient should commit to a course of treatment that has been proven to eradicate their illness or reduce its impact. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, morbid obesity, alzheimer’s – all of these have established medical treatments which can increase a person’s chance of survival and/or quality of life.

Addiction is both a physiological and behavioral illness. With opioid addiction in particular, there is a strong biological/physical basis as well as a highly significant psychological component. When both of these are adequately addressed, a patient has a new opportunity to recover.

For most individuals with a severe opioid addiction, is critically important to receive physical relief from the discomfort of opioid withdrawal symptoms. But this must also happen in conjunction with behavioral health counseling. Counseling addresses the emotional & psychological factors that contributed to the development of addiction in the first place, and counseling teaches the skills necessary to remain drug free over the long-term and to hopefully avoid future relapses.

Many people find that if they neglect one of these two key areas, then they are more vulnerable to relapse and rapid deterioration. When opioid detox is not a viable option for a particular patient, methadone and suboxone are clearly the medications of choice for addressing opioid withdrawal. Counseling provides the other half of the equation. All methadone programs across the country (as well as all suboxone-approved physicians) are required to insure that their patients are receiving some level of addiction counseling.

The essential ingredient is this mix is patient commitment. Having a genuine desire for a drug free life is as important as anything else. Becoming ready for change is a process in itself and varies from person to person. It is true that many people find their way into recovery because of a recent crisis in which things get so bad they hit a new low, or bottom. This does not have to happen though.

Sometimes hitting “bottom” brings with it dire consequences. If you have been contemplating making a change, please remember that it is not too late. There are many advantages to acting today as opposed to waiting another day. Addiction loves procrastination. Recovery begins now with your commitment to doing something about your problem!

Stepping Onto The Path of Recovery

the-pathAn important consideration in examining the disease of addiction is the recognition that “recovery” is an incremental process. Many people facing their addiction will experience brief setbacks, and some will struggle for years before they are able to remain on the path of positive change.

As a counselor, I have listened to many recovering individuals talk about their resistance to change. Addiction is a persistent disease of disruptive thinking and behavior highly subject to repetition. Addicts will repeat the same bad “choices” as a result of many factors. Scientific research has shown that habitual patterns of behavior are neurochemically driven deep within the brain. These patterns can be reinforced by one’s social connections, immediate environment, and underlying belief system.

With severe levels of addiction sustained over years, it can become difficult for people to shift their lifestyle, thinking, and decision-making toward a healthy, recovery-oriented mindset. In 12 Step recovery, there is the popular expression called “hitting bottom”. This expression is typically used to describe a specific time in which a person has lost so much, or suffered such a painful crisis, that their readiness for change finally emerges. This window of opportunity is often times short-lived. Hitting bottom will compel some people to finally take the right action – to seek help – to admit they have a problem. If this happens, then a decision to step onto the path of recovery may actually occur.

Active addition is often characterized by a short range view in which consequences are not thoroughly considered. Focusing on consequences interferes with the compulsive desire to use. And even then, a recognition of consequences to oneself and family is often not enough to change the decision to get high. With opiate addiction, the decision to use is overwhelmingly controlled by opiate withdrawal sickness. This never-ending physical sickness takes people away from recovery and keeps them trapped in a desperate existence centered around doing whatever is necessary to avoid being “dope sick”.

Fortunately, this dilemma can be addressed through medication-assisted treatments (methadone, suboxone, naltrexone). These do not replace the need for a recovery program, but they become an important part of one’s overall personal recovery program. Staying on the path of recovery is the next critical phase after stepping onto the path. Medication-assisted treatment greatly aids recovering addicts in staying on the proper path. Science has proven that those with the greatest chance of long-term, successful sobriety are those that remain in treatment and recovery. Said differently, a person’s chance of recovery success is statistically improved the longer they remain in treatment.

When a person no longer has to face the crippling weight of daily withdrawal sickness, they have a chance to re-approach their overall recovery and the opportunities that lie ahead of them.

Reducing Risk of IV-Related Infections

drug-safetyOne of the risks associated with the progression of opioid addiction is the increased probability of an addicted person moving to injectable heroin as a last resort in dealing with opioid withdrawal. In the early years of methadone’s adoption in treatment centers, it was used primarily to help heroin addicted individuals detox from heroin and eventually remain heroin free.

While heroin is definitely resurfacing, the opioid epidemic of recent years has primarily been about prescription opioids taken orally. Following this pattern of use, users eventually discover that crushing and snorting pills is a more efficient means of getting an opioid into their system. Injecting is typically the last step in this progression of the disease of addiction.

But with injection comes a variety of new risks and health problems such as skin abscesses, localized infection at the site of injection, as well as hepatitis C (a viral infection of the liver) and HIV infection acquired through needle sharing with infected persons. A recent story in the news highlighted a sudden increase in HIV infections in Scott County (Indiana) in conjunction with the rise of opioid addiction there and injectable drug use.

Indiana’s governor has temporarily approved the use of needle exchange programs to help reduce the risk of virus transmission resulting from the use of dirty needles. The story indicated that the number of documented HIV infections had risen month over month. The county is presently trying to locate over 100 people who may have been exposed to the HIV virus in connection with injecting opiates.

Methadone and other medication-assisted treatments have been conclusively proven to reduce heroin/opiate relapse and injection drug use. For many individuals trapped in a daily cycle of perpetual drug abuse, the risk of acquiring a deadly infection increases with every day that they are not in treatment receiving help.

Treatment leads to recovery, and recovery leads to dramatic lifestyle change. Many patients who choose methadone as a tool in their personal recovery never go back to injecting drugs. This obviously is a life saving choice.

Someone recently stated “If you’re dead, you can’t recovery.” This is a rather blunt way of expressing a profound and meaningful truth. Addiction does rob loved ones, friends, family, and neighbors of life, health, and happiness. Recovery has the ability to restore all of these. Let us keep our minds and hearts open about the value of medication-assisted treatment. It is making a real difference for numerous people around the world.