Historically, access to methadone for the treatment of opioid addiction has been through enrollment in a local clinic licensed to dispense methadone. As a result of Covid restrictions, some of these clinic regulations were relaxed. For example, many patients across the U.S. were allowed to begin receiving take home doses of methadone as a result of Covid lockdowns and decreased clinic access.
Critics have begun to express the belief that clinic restrictions are cumbersome and that methadone should be made available for pick-up at local pharmacies. On the other hand, the concern remains that methadone can be misdirected or mishandled thus reinforcing the need for close supervision, particularly in the early phases of opioid treatment. Decades of research has shown that taken under proper supervision, methadone’s safety profile is excellent.
In this recent era of contaminated street opiates and overdose concerns, it is clear that methadone is a phenomenally effective medication for promoting health, well-being, and physical safety.
Mark Parrino, president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, recently shared that deregulation of methadone would likely increase the diversion of methadone and methadone-related overdose deaths.
Following a period of stability, most U.S. clinics do allow patients to begin dosing at home with methadone. This system of care is working well throughout the country where methadone is readily available. However, many U.S. citizens are still lengthy distances from methadone-approved clinics. So, the challenge continues to link those with opioid addiction to effective resources in their local community. Legislators are presently examining a range of options as the opioid epidemic marches on.
Several articles recently addressed a study which found that providing buprenorphine after an overdose significantly increased the likelihood of individuals accessing opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.
The current protocol for paramedics and emergency departments in treating opioid overdose is to administer naloxone in order to reverse the effects of overdose. A recently published study showed that also providing buprenorphine immediately afterward reduced withdrawal discomfort and increased outpatient addiction follow-up care.
A separate article referenced data showing a nearly six-fold increase in patients accessing outpatient addiction treatment within 30 days of the overdose event.
These are highly encouraging finds which demonstrate the far-reaching effectiveness of medication-assistance in the treatment of opioid addiction. Saving a life through overdose reversal is obviously a critical benefit, but increasing motivation for follow-up treatment is a huge step in helping addicted individuals plug into a long-term solution.
Structured treatment which utilizes medication-assistance provides so much to those aspiring to face their addiction challenges. Naloxone, buprenorphine, and methadone have saved countless lives, and these medications have provided an unrivaled opportunity for those in opioid addiction to plot a new path in life.
A new study by the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin found that a patient’s length of treatment is directly tied to lower risk of overdose.
In particular, treating opioid addiction with medication for at least 60 days generated a 61% reduction in the incidence of overdose.
Numerous other studies over the last two decades have shown that positive outcomes are tied to longer duration in outpatient addiction treatment. Not only does greater length of time in treatment allow for physical stabilization with methadone or buprenorphine, but it provides each patient with time to develop improved coping skills and relapse prevention capability.
Higher levels of functioning are able to be achieved, such as gainful employment and improved parenting, when a patient is able to remain in addiction treatment for longer periods of time.
Marguerite Burns, who led the Wisconsin study, found that recovery success and overdose prevention are enhanced the longer that patients take medication over a 12 month period. Medication-assistance plays a key role in helping opioid addicted patients find long lasting recovery.
Impressively, the study was based on treatment outcomes recorded for 293,160 Medicaid patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder.
The need for social support in recovery is a significant factor. Not only is successful recovery an ongoing challenge, but it is a journey which is greatly helped through positive connection with others.
Others who offer acceptance and encouragement during “rough days” can sometimes make the difference between relapse and successful coping.
It is important to realize that support can come from anyone. It does not necessarily have to be one’s family or from the 12 Step community. The love, support, and involvement of others in your recovery can actually come from a much wider variety of contacts and positive influences.
It’s particularly beneficial when your supports are accepting of medication-assisted treatment. Physicians and counselors are generally much better informed on the benefits of methadone or buprenorphine in managing opioid withdrawal. If your spouse, partner, or friend does not understand the value of medication-assistance, it can make a difference to invite them to one of your counseling sessions or to direct them to this website.
Opioid treatment programs (like the ones featured on Methadone.US) generally offer group therapy, individual counseling, and education sessions where other patients can offer support. Some programs also provide assistance for coping with psychiatric issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder. Managing these co-occurring disorders is really key in strengthening your overall recovery from opioids or other drugs.
Always remember, addiction is an illness that grows in darkness & isolation. So step out into the light. Seek professional help and support. This is where solutions begin. There are others who will walk with you on the path of recovery. If you feel stuck in addiction presently, that is temporary. That can change.
It’s no secret that many addicted people resist recovery or treatment, sometimes for years, before eventually deciding to make a change. The mental stress of addiction often paralyzes a person with fear and indecision.
Making a commitment to change can be intimidating, even scary. But many people who enter treatment look back and say “Why didn’t I do this sooner!”
What that tells us is that treatment and support actually work. Particularly medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like that which is typically provided to those trying to overcome years of opioid addiction.
The mindset for recovery begins with an openness and a willingness to try something new. To reach out for guidance. There are many stories of addiction where the individual cuts ties with family and friends, and retreats into isolation. This makes people sicker … and stuck. Often times, “stuck” is a self-imposed but temporary state of mind.
The mindset for recovery is picking up the phone and calling your local treatment center, or a counselor, doctor, or even a friend to say “I’m ready for help”. Every day is an opportunity to reset, and to go in a new direction. We are not promised an unlimited number of days. So don’t procrastinate.
Opioid addiction can be pretty relentless. But you do not have to face it alone. Methadone, suboxone, buprenorphine, vivitrol are supportive medications that make the journey easier. For many people, these medications have opened the door to recovery. And for many, it has saved their lives.