Category Archives: Methadone Programs

Methadone Treatment Services

methadone-treatment-resourcesWhen one thinks of methadone treatment, they usually consider the power of methadone to eliminate opiate withdrawal and the value this has to someone fighting off withdrawal sickness.

Methadone treatment actually consists of more than just the “medication assistance” component. Real treatment always addresses the underlying lifestyle, thinking, and behavioral elements that are a significant part of the addictive process. These areas are specifically addressed through counseling. All opioid treatment programs providing methadone in the United States are required to also offer counseling to their patients in order to help them achieve true and lasting success.

Some patients will need more counseling & emotional support than others. But all patients new to the recovery process will need to receive basic education on addiction as an illness, how to build a personal recovery program, and to have an opportunity to develop new coping and relapse prevention skills.

Methadone clinics in the U.S. vary in the ways that they deliver counseling services. Some programs are heavy on individual counseling while some focus more on a group therapy model. Often, programs will provide a blend of the two with optional family or collateral participation available as needed.

There is another important consideration with methadone treatment pertaining to the need to also treat “co-occurring disorders”. Co-occurring disorders consist of other psychiatric symptoms that merit special interventions and additional care. For example, many individuals dealing with an opioid addiction may also have struggled with chronic depression or anxiety. Unless these disorders are treated effectively, they can become stumbling blocks on the road to recovery, and can undermine a person’s sobriety success.

A number of methadone programs have in-house psychiatric services to address co-occurring disorders and to provide additional medications and/or therapy if required. Opioid treatment programs that do not have psyc services will typically refer a patient out to the local mental health center or a private provider who specializes in psychiatric care.

Methadone treatment has at times been presented as a harm reduction approach to dealing with severe addiction. In other words, reducing a person’s risk of overdose or exposure to other illnesses is a worthwhile goal. However, “harm reduction” alone does not represent all that recovery truly offers. There are many people who have found life long recovery through their introduction to methadone treatment. After becoming drug free, they went on to have families, start businesses, develop new careers, and enjoy a full life in the best sense.

The possibilities are limitless in recovery. Addiction is treatable. Methadone can be an important piece of the recovery journey. For many thousands of patients, it was the new start that they had hoped for.

Methadone Maintenance For Opioid Treatment

methadone-and-opioid-treatmentOpioid Treatment is a category that includes several different interventions or approaches relating to opioid use disorders. People sometimes mistake opioid treatment for “opioid detox” when they are technically two different processes.

Opioid detox refers to the process of helping an opioid addicted individual discontinue their use of opioids and be medically monitored as the body withdraws from them. In a supervised setting, a person is typically assisted through a short-term opioid detox (3-10 days) by the administration of various medications used to manage withdrawal symptoms like clonidine (to guard against high blood pressure), vistaril (to reduce nausea and anxiety), and even buprenorphine (to minimize the severity of the opioid withdrawal process).

There are also variations on an opioid detox referred to as a taper. A taper often occurs on an outpatient basis and involves a more gradual reduction in dosage of either methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone) over time. This taper may take as long as 90 days and allows the individual to adjust more comfortably due to the slower, milder reduction in dosage that occurs over a coarse of weeks or months.

Maintenance is the term which refers to maintaining an individual for a significant period of time on either methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone) to allow for stabilization on the opioid replacement medication. Since opioid addiction introduces dramatic brain chemistry changes in conjunction with strong physical dependency and cravings for opiates, many people find that they need a substantial period of stabilization on methadone in order to have a realistic chance at building a personal recovery. Numerous individuals have decided that they will utilize methadone for only a few weeks with the intention of tapering off of it very quickly. This strategy is prone to failure and tends to end in dramatic relapses back to heroin and other illicit opioids.

Methadone maintenance for most opioid-addicted persons involves receiving methadone for a year or more. This length of time dramatically raises the probability of successful physical stabilization and necessary thinking, behavior, and lifestyle changes which lead to long-term drug abstinence and sustained, productive living. Put very simply, when people attempt to rush through the process of stabilization & recovery, they sabotage their chance of experiencing real success. For that reason, maintenance is a therapeutic process which should be regarded as a one year commitment or longer, and tapering off of methadone or buprenorphine should not be rushed. Bear in mind that not all individual situations are exactly the same and there are unique exceptions.

There are many different factors that play into how long a person needs to remain on methadone or suboxone maintenance. This is highly individualized depending on the length and severity of one’s opioid abuse history, one’s present medical status and general state of health, the availability of social & emotional supports, and the presence of any co-occurring psychiatric disorders like depression.

There is considerable misinformation about methadone tapering and a bit of fear-mongering that often occurs around the topic. People that generally taper successfully off of methadone or suboxone are individuals that have invested time in counseling and personal recovery growth, and who have developed a good working relationship with their doctor or treatment staff. These individuals approach tapering as a gradual goal and are allowed to halt or slow down their taper as needed. This allows their body time to adapt to the somewhat lower dosage. It also allows them to proceed slowly and carefully such that any anxiety or fears can be successfully identified and managed.

Choosing The Right Direction: Detox – Methadone – Suboxone

CRC Health Group to Receive $495,000

feature4bAn article in Maine’s Bangor Daily News outlines a case recently decided in which the Town of Warren, Maine was found to have adopted an ordinance that was ruled discriminatory and in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

CRC Health Group had been fighting to open a methadone clinic in Warren to provide treatment services to those struggling with the disease of opioid addiction. However, the town of Warren had opposed this initiative for several years. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Nivison approved an agreement in which the town of Warren will pay $495,000 to CRC Health Group to drop its lawsuit.

CRC offers a variety of behavioral health treatment programs around the country and has a special focus in opioid addiction services utilizing medication-assisted treatment like methadone and buprenorphine.

Maine has a substantial opiate addiction problem and is in need of more resources for those individuals stuck in the vicious cycle of opiate addiction and withdrawal.

Historically, there have been other similar cases in which town planning boards attempted to oppose the construction of a local methadone clinic. This is commonly referred to as NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). However, denying people ready access to a needed medical service appears to come with serious financial repercussions.

For More: A Message To The Community

Advocating For Addiction Treatment

recovery-journeyTreatment for addiction is one path which may be taken to help rebuild a person’s life when alcohol or drugs have become a problem. There is a compelling documentary recovery film recently out entitled The Anonymous People. The film is an interesting retrospective on the recovery movement in the United States and how it evolved, beginning with AA in the 1930′s, until present day.

A special focus in the film is highlighting the message that people do recover from addiction, that there is a solution to this disease – and that solution is the decision to choose recovery. Recovery is a process that changes lives and takes individuals to a new destination in their life. Recovery is the journey that saves & enhances lives. To that end, recovery from addiction is of incomparable value.

In life, bad choices are made every day. As human beings, we learn to make better choices – often through the mistakes we endure as we travel through life one day at a time.

In reviewing the variety of recovery “paths”, there exist several routes by which an addicted person can find hope and direction in learning to live a drug free life. Some find their answers in church-based recovery programs. Churches recognize the reality of substance addictions and many have developed their own spiritual programs for dealing with drug addiction and offering hope for a better future.

12 Step Programs have been in widespread use for a long time and many lost in addiction have found the support, fellowship, and help needed in the rooms of AA, NA and other 12 step based programs. Some people in recovery from opioid addiction may find that their decision to take methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone) is not well-received in 12 step programs. This can make it difficult to feel accepted or supported there. However, not all NA or AA meetings are the same. NA and AA have themselves evolved over time, and some NA and AA members welcome all people suffering from addiction regardless of their drug of choice.

Addiction treatment is yet another path that leads toward recovery and the possibility of positive change. Treatment, like 12 step meetings, can vary considerably from one program to the next. Opioid treatment in particular often uses medication assistance as an additional tool to help people in their recovery journey. While medication assistance is scientifically proven to be beneficial to opioid addicted persons, it has endured some controversy through the years as those on the outside looking in chose judgment & criticism over compassion and understanding. Methadone and suboxone are proven, effective tools for alleviating the suffering that comes from opioid withdrawal.

In The Anonymous People documentary, there is a strong message that addicted people deserve love & support. Addicted people are from all walks of life. If treatment works, then advocating and supporting treatment is just and worthwhile. The film makes a persuasive argument that better advocacy is needed for the funding of addiction treatment services across the country. Addiction treatment advocacy has not been as effective as advocacy for other critical health conditions like HIV/AIDS or cancer.

As more families struggle with addiction and more voices are ultimately heard in their plea for treatment funding & support, we will hopefully see a shift in society whereby recovery is embraced as the answer to addiction.

Methadone Program Profile – Alcohol and Drug Services (ADS)

ads-methadone-treatment2There are many hundreds of methadone clinics in operation across the entire United States. Wherever there is addiction, there are suffering addicts and concerned friends and family in search of answers … and treatment.

Methadone.US would like to profile a highly regarded opioid treatment program located in Greensboro, North Carolina. This program is part of a non-profit substance abuse services agency known as Alcohol and Drug Services (ADS).

ADS has been helping the Guilford County and surrounding Triad community for over 40 years. While ADS offers a range of addiction treatment and drug prevention programs, they excel in the area of treating opioid addiction through a combined use of opioid replacement medication (methadone) and structured counseling.

ADS has achieved CARF accreditation, is licensed by the State of North Carolina’s Division of Health and Human Services, and is an approved Medicaid and multi-MCO authorized provider. But ADS’ most outstanding accomplishment is the depth and quality of their opioid program services and the professionalism of their compassionate & committed staff.

Methadone medication offers safe & effective relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms when properly administered through a quality, structured program. Unfortunately, some methadone clinics are too lite on their counseling and case support components, which are key ingredients in any comprehensive opioid treatment program.

ADS has a longstanding history of helping clients gain a thorough knowledge of their addictive illness and in helping clients to develop valuable coping skills for managing their lives and achieving personal goals. ADS treats indigent and low income patients who might otherwise be unable to pay for methadone services out-of-pocket. The ADS Methadone Program offers psychiatric services, limited medical services, free HIV testing, and substantial case support assistance to help with major issues like housing placement.

Alcohol and Drug Services’ methadone program in Greensboro, NC is comparatively small in relation to some of the local private, for-profit methadone clinics. ADS typically serve between 180-200 active clients.

The organization recently launched a new website to inform the community of their various programs. The website is: www.ADSyes.org. The agency gratefully accepts charitable donations of any amount through their website.

Visit the ADS Blog and the ADS Google + Page

Working As A Methadone Program Counselor

methadone-jobsWorking as a methadone program counselor is both a fulfilling and challenging professional job position. Personal fulfillment comes from forming a therapeutic relationship with people in recovery and enjoying the opportunity to see them move upward and onward in rebuilding a quality life. Fulfillment also comes from one’s role within an organization or agency and being able to contribute meaningfully to that methadone program’s expansion and continual improvement.

The challenging aspects of working as a methadone counselor stem from several areas. The first is caseload size. Most methadone programs require that counselors serve sizable caseloads which results in counselors striving to meet the many varied needs of patients while having numerous other demands made on their time.

Closely related to serving patients is the extensive documentation requirements that must be met when a counselor provides any type of direct counseling service or case management assistance to an active patient. In today’s healthcare environment, documenting one’s professional activities is an extensive drain on time, energy, and productivity. This is particularly true with state and federally supported programs that draw on public funding to run the methadone program. Good computer skills are generally a must have.

Effective methadone counselors become time management experts and develop a high level ability to work quickly under pressure, to shift priorities, and to multitask while maintaining an appropriate focus on their professional development.

Quality methadone counselors also bring to their work a dedication to patient welfare and a spirit of enthusiasm, hope, and positivity to co-workers and the patients that are relying upon them for guidance and support.

Methadone.US provides an extensive employment section that lists numerous methadone treatment jobs across the country. Those interested in working in the opioid treatment field can browse our job section for recent methadone program openings. This includes nursing positions, physician positions, counselor openings as well as support positions like receptionist and billing or finance specialist.

Working as a methadone counselor offers many rewards. Appropriate supervision and professional development are very important when undertaking any counseling position. Knowledge, skill, and experience must be actively developed, and are ideally supported by any reputable methadone treatment employer.