Category Archives: Methadone Maintenance

Shifting Tide Favors Medication in Opioid Treatment

The nation’s opioid epidemic has reached fever pitch and is now being spotlighted by all levels of local and national media. This is obviously good news.

At the center of this discussion is what can be done to reduce opioid fatalities, and to provide addicted people a real opportunity to regain control over their lives. This discussion inevitably leads to examining the benefit of medication-assisted treatment.

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naloxone are the three leading alternatives for helping patients deal with the perpetual withdrawal sickness that comes from a physiological dependency on opioids.

In recent congressional testimony to members of Congress, Scott Gottlieb (Commissioner of the FDA) specifically heralded the life-saving benefits of methadone and similar medications.

His testimony included comments on the wealth of information behind the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment. It is vitally important that legislative decision-makers obtain a clear understanding about what works and what does not in regard to coping successfully with this opioid crisis.

Time is of the essence because the present overdose fatality rate in the United States is over 64,000 per year. This number is beyond alarming. Here is an article that points to a possible positive shift in communities’ openness to having local opioid treatment nearby. Hopefully, this becomes a trend.

Achieving Stability in the Recovery Process

Opioid addiction is one of the more challenging substance use disorders to confront and manage because of its physical dependency characteristics. Once the process of physical addiction has taken hold, avoiding daily withdrawal becomes a high hurdle.

Because of this daily dilemma, it becomes difficult to remain focused on other aspects of recovery. It’s the law of “first things first” that applies when tackling any problem. There is a natural order and sequence which must be followed when trying to solve a complex task. Opioid addiction recovery is no exception.

Obtaining relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms is a very important first step in addressing opioid addiction. This is why medication-assisted treatment is specifically identified as a medical best practice. Science and years of exhaustive research have proven (not just suggested) that treatment coupled with medication-assistance offers the greatest probability of long-term success when trying to overcome moderate to severe opioid addiction.

Fortunately, more people are becoming aware of the need for buprenorphine, methadone, and other medications that can play a vital role in stabilizing an opioid addicted individual at the onset of their personal recovery.

Historically, efforts to come off of opioids in a detox setting have been often unsuccessful because many detoxes used insufficient medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Consequently, patients would typically begin to get sick in 1-2 days with their withdrawal symptoms becoming intolerable. This can lead to patients abandoning the detox effort and a quick return to illicit opiates.

However, the tide is turning. As the American opioid crisis continues to impact families and U.S. society, many more physicians, lawmakers, and government representatives are gaining a quick education on the enormous value of medication-assisted treatment. Methadone is at the forefront of this new awareness as is buprenorphine-based products like Suboxone.

Appropriate medications used responsibly and under a doctor’s supervision provide stability, hope, and opportunity.

Access to Addiction Treatment

methadone31Many state-funded addiction treatment services have undergone gradual cuts during the last 15 years. With the rising opioid addiction crisis in America, better access to opioid treatment is definitely needed.

There are a number of private clinics and outpatient treatment centers opening their doors in most every state. These private clinics are meeting a need for services that are often absent in more remote areas of the country.

Some new opioid treatment providers are smaller, independent methadone clinics while others are part of a larger network such as those owned by Acadia Healthcare, Behavioral Health Group (BHG), or Colonial Management Group.

They all have one thing in common, and it is that they provide their patients with medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is scientifically proven to be more effective than other forms of abstinence-based treatment.

Medication assistance typically utilizes methadone or buprenorphine-based products to alleviate a patient’s chronic opioid withdrawal. Without medication-assistance, patients often face either a detox admission or they struggle on in a daily effort to secure opiates so as to prevent the return of withdrawal sickness.

People ready for opioid treatment may find that their local methadone clinic is full, or that their nearest clinic is just too far away to access on a daily basis. For some patients, suboxone/buprenorphine may be the best solution since a prescription can be obtained for several weeks of medication before a return visit is required.

Access to treatment is currently on the radar of national healthcare officials and government legislators, many of whom have received numerous letters and calls from families requesting more funding for treatment, and better access. Media coverage has also been much improved during the past 3 years in part due to the widespread opioid crisis and its broad impact.

Supporting local opioid addiction treatment services is important for every community. It ultimately saves lives, reduces crime, and promotes recovery so that addicted patients can work and function.

21st Century Cures Act

opioid-treatment-fundingThe U.S. House of Representatives just passed a sweeping reform, called the 21st Century Cures Act, that will infuse $1 billion in new funding earmarked for opioid treatment and prevention services.

It has taken several years of alarming statistics on the national opioid epidemic, but Congress has responded. This USA Today article provides an overview of the numbers. In addition to the $1 billion for opioid services will be another $4.8 billion for cutting-edge research around treating Alzheimers, cancer, traumatic brain injury, and other medical issues.

The bill received enormous bipartisan support and passed 392-to-26. In 2016, death by drug overdose surpassed death by car crashes and gun fatalities. The public outcry for government intervention has been steady. With so many families having been affected by addiction issues, the new funding allowance should open doors for opioid treatment particularly in rural areas where opioid services have been severely lacking.

Methadone remains the #1 medication-assisted treatment option. Buprenorphine medications are; however, making a big impact in the treatment field with a wide variety of buprenorphine-based formulations coming to market. In addition to the familiar suboxone film, are probuphine (a buprenorphine implant), subutex (an uncoated buprenorphine tablet), and bunavail.

Methadone Clinics Offer Important Medical Service

methadone clinics medication assistanceThere are currently well over 1000 methadone clinics in operation across the United States and many more throughout the world. Methadone has been a leading treatment intervention for opioid addiction for more than 40 years. Methadone is an FDA-approved medication and it’s use in treating opioid addiction has been identified by SAMHSA as a best practice, evidence-based treatment approach.

Adding to the legacy of methadone as a successful treatment medium are the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been able to totally eliminate the severe opioid withdrawal sickness that wrecked their lives. The value of this medical benefit is priceless.

The cost for participating in a methadone program varies from clinic to clinic and in part depends on whether the clinic receives any state funding or accepts Medicaid for payment. Many clinics operate as private practices funded primarily through patient self-payment. Private clinics often offer a substantial discount for patients that pay for a month of services in advance.

Due to methadone’s proven efficacy, many addicted people experience rapid relief from opiate withdrawal and find themselves eating and sleeping more normally, gaining weight, and able to work again. They are able to pursue other goals & responsibilities that had previously become too difficult in their active addiction.

Methadone is a powerful medication that must be taken as prescribed and in conjunction with good counseling. When a patient is willing to embrace medication-assisted treatment and to utilize it properly, recovery can happen. This life restoration process is demonstrated on a daily basis all around the country.

> Compare Different Opioid Addiction Treatments