Category Archives: Methadone Treatment

Opioid Treatment Program Rules

Methadone programs and doctors who prescribe buprenorphine serve a very important function in helping the country cope with the opioid crisis. They are also a life-saving link for patients who have suffered for years with an overwhelming addiction.

Operating a methadone clinic or buprenorphine/suboxone practice is typically a complex endeavor. Clinics that offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) must comply with a myriad of mandates and policy requirements from the DEA, the local State Methadone Authority, accreditation organizations like CARF and JCAH, SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration}, and 3rd party payers who help fund treatment services.

Patients understand that a well-run treatment clinic offers many benefits. Quality services are only delivered when there is an organizational commitment to helping people while also being able to meet all of the operational requirements such as timely documentation of services (paperwork) and appropriate support of staff & counselors,

Sometimes patients will complain about “so many clinic rules” although many patients appreciate their clinic’s dedication to professionalism and its ability to meet the standards of good quality care. Within most treatment facilities are several key staff who oversee its daily operation and the provision of services. These are the Clinical Director, the Medical Director or primary prescribing physician, the Nurse Supervisor, and possibly clinical staff Team Leaders who do the work of coordinating the clinics many daily activities.

While the list of clinic rules can seem long, there is nearly always an important underlying reason for that rule to exist. Most methadone clinics distribute a Handbook for clients that outlines their rights as an opioid treatment patient as well as guidelines for obtaining dosage adjustments and progressing successfully through treatment.

Opioid treatment, and medication-assistance in particular, must be carefully monitored. This is to insure patient safety and to minimize the risk of medication errors. Please support your local methadone or suboxone clinic with words of encouragement and positive feedback when it is earned. Conversely, it is important to speak up as well if serious problems are occurring. Always make an effort to communicate first with the clinic’s clinical and administrative staff if experiencing a problem. If an honest effort to resolve an issue in this manner is not productive, then contacting one’s local State Methadone Authority is sometimes a logical next step for addressing an important concern.

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

 

PBS Special on Heroin Addiction in America

frontlinePBS’ Frontline series of specials just aired a compelling documentary by the name of Chasing Heroin. The two hour investigation profiles a number of individuals who became addicted to opioids, some of whom chose methadone or suboxone to help them successfully manage their addictive disorder.

The documentary highlights that addiction is best addressed as a medical illness instead of a punishable criminal act. There is widespread consensus today that putting large numbers of people in prison for drug use has not been an effective approach to the problem of drug addiction.

Incarcerating users is very costly and ultimately does not lead to remaining drug free once released from prison. For those suffering with a chronic opioid addiction, medication assisted treatment has become the standard of care proven to be most effective – particularly for those individuals who have tried others forms of treatment that did not work.

The Frontline documentary linked above is very informative, but please be forewarned that it does display vivid scenes of drug use that some viewers may find disturbing. So please exercise appropriate caution before viewing.

To Learn More About Detox, Methadone, or Suboxone

New Hampshire Addiction Crisis

womens-recoveryNBC News recently reported on the heroin crisis that New Hampshire residents have witnessed. Unprecedented numbers of people from all age groups are struggling with opioid addiction. Many are now deceased with estimates putting the number at nearly 400 who died from a fatal overdose just last year.

New Hampshire is reported to have no state-funded methadone programs to assist those experiencing severe heroin and other opioid addiction. There are several private clinics, but those are currently full with waiting lists for individuals who hope to one day be admitted.

Diane St. Onge, director of the Manchester Comprehensive Treatment Center, is quoted as saying “We need more treatment options. People’s lives are at stake.” Her clinic is presently operating at capacity with 540 patients according to the NBC article. Scores of untreated addicted adults are seeking treatment. When clinics are at capacity, they are forced to place prospective patients on a waiting list.

It is estimated that a significant number of the overdoses are related to heroin and other opiates being mixed with fentanyl and other substances. This makes the potency of the drugs being used almost impossible to predict thus greatly increasing the chance of accidental overdose.

Detox or medication-assisted treatment are the primary modes of intervention for those with opioid addiction. While there has been a substantial increase nationwide in the number of clinics dedicated to treating opioid addiction, there remain numerous areas throughout the country where methadone and suboxone support services are not yet readily available.

Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment

opioid-treatment-in-mediaAn article in the Huffington Post recently addressed President Obama’s public comments on expanding access to opioid treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like methadone or buprenorphine (suboxone).

Many members of the treatment industry and recovery community do not have a realistic grasp on the role that medication-assisted treatment can play in recovery from severe opioid addiction. Historically, the recovery community has not regarded those utilizing methadone or suboxone as truly in recovery. They emphasize total abstinence, even from methadone, despite the fact that methadone and buprenorphine have restored individuals to normal functioning and even saved lives in many cases.

There was a time some years ago, in the 12 step community, when individuals were chastised for taking psychotropic medication for depression or other mental health disorders. This criticism came from a fundamental lack of knowledge about the biological basis for many mental health disorders. Similarly, medication-assisted treatment interventions have been the subject of misunderstanding and unwarranted rejection by those with limited education on varied treatment approaches.

As America’s opioid problem continues to grow, we need real solutions rooted in medical science and research. At this point in time, medication-assisted treatment has been in use long enough to clearly demonstrate its usefulness in facilitating personal recovery from addiction.

In 2015, we saw numerous local and national political figures rally around families that have been impacted by heroin overdoses and the heartbreaking loss of loved ones. Opioid addiction has finally come into focus within the mainstream media, and even current Presidential candidates have begun to address this as an important issue which commands attention and a solution.

More: Question and Answers on how methadone works