Tag Archives: methadone

Why Methadone Is Effective

methadone-researchMany opioid addicted individuals eventually become interested in methadone after hearing others speak of its effectiveness in eliminating opiate withdrawal sickness.

Methadone has been in use for well over 40 years as a leading treatment for opioid addiction. There are now hundreds of methadone clinics in operation across the U.S. The popularity of methadone as an addiction treatment rests in its proven benefit in completely removing withdrawal symptoms and in methadone’s uniquely long half life.

Heroin and most prescription opiates have a quick onset, short duration. In other words, you feel the effect quickly but the effect does not last long. Methadone is designed to remain in an individual’s system for a prolonged period of time thus keeping withdrawal symptoms at bay for a full day or longer.

Someone who is opioid tolerant and adjusted to their daily methadone medication will experience no high whatsoever from the medication. It will not interfere with their daily responsibilities, work, family, or other obligations. Often, families wonder what effect methadone will have on their loved one. Most family members are surprised to see their loved one return to being functional again and able to live a normal daily life.

Methadone is a full opioid agonist and binds very well to the body’s mu opioid receptors. This action causes withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, chills,  diarrhea, and runny nose to disappear. Once these symptoms are removed, the addicted person can finally resume a full life and refocus themselves on important personal goals.

While the news media have frequently focused on addiction tragedies, the real stories are those in which countless people’s lives have been saved by methadone. In the North Carolina clinic where I have been employed, I have seen enormous numbers of individuals re-engage with their family, their career, their academic pursuits, home ownership, and a rewarding way of life.

There is a considerable amount of misinformation and fear-mongering that goes on around the topic of tapering off of methadone. It is important to emphasize that a patient is physically dependent upon methadone and must take the medication regularly to avoid opioid withdrawal. However, individuals taper off of methadone successfully everyday in programs across the country. Managing your anxiety during the taper process is important because this helps you stay focused and rational as you slowly reduce your methadone dosage.

The key to tapering successfully is to do so gradually and in cooperation with your prescribing physician and methadone clinic medical team. Some people may try to taper off of methadone too quickly and will consequently begin to feel their withdrawal symptoms return. This is most often avoided by simply proceeding slowly with a methadone taper.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Teens and Young Adults

opioid-addiction-childrenThere is increasing momentum building for opioid addiction treatment in response to the growing opioid addiction problem in the United States. Many teenagers and young adults who are being introduced to prescription opiates are at risk for developing a crippling drug dependency. The risk is increased as these youth discover that heroin is a relatively cheaper alternative than pain pills purchased on the street.

The Partnership at DrugFree.org has published a 36 page guide outlining opioid addiction and the therapeutic role that medication-assisted treatment can have even for teens and young adults. Methadone, suboxone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are highlighted in the guide with an accompanying description of each medication and its use in opioid treatment.

Opioid replacement therapy has historically been used as a treatment of last resort in adult populations. The dilemma is that a high percentage of opioid addicted individuals are unable to remain drug free with traditional models of treatment that do not include medication assistance of some variety like naltrexone, buprenorphine, or methadone. Overcoming opioid withdrawal without effective symptom relief presents a serious obstacle in the recovery process.

The Partnership at DrugFree.org recognizes that the wave of opioid addiction in America is mounting. The news media have been covering this issue too with some regularity over the past year. Effective remedies need to be in place as all ages seek help for opiate addiction. If we are to save lives, the stigma of medication-assisted therapy and the misunderstanding around it must be finally removed.

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

Couples in Opioid Treatment Together

womens-recoveryIt is good news when an addicted couple find their way into treatment. Opioid addiction is a very lonely journey, and alienating friends and family comes with the territory when one is deep into a drug addiction.

With severe addiction, it is not uncommon for both members of a couple to be struggling with an opiate dependency. While this bond is certainly not a healthy one, it is one that makes sense for the couple, who often find themselves feeling like it’s “us against the world”. As they plow through addiction, sometimes one hour at a time for years, a bond is formed … like two friends going through a war together each watching the other’s back in a never ending fight to stay alive.

At some point, one member of the couple will have the good thought about entering treatment and may push their partner to seek treatment together. Sometimes this works out and sometimes not. When it does work, the couple will begin dosing with methadone or suboxone and hopefully attempt to re-orient themselves to a sober way of living. This is a beautiful experience to behold when two people are ready, and they encourage each other to make better choices.

In 12 Step recovery circles, recovering couples are strongly encouraged to seek their own individual recovery apart from their partner. Couples often resist this suggestion, but it is a very wise approach. It is so easy to relapse when one’s partner goes back to using. So, having one’s own circle of support outside of this relationship can be critical in helping a person to remain drug free when their partner has relapsed. It actually helps the relapsed partner too when he or she sees their spouse not compromising on recovery principles and continuing to make appropriate choices.

With stable couples who have methadone take homes or who receive the same psychotropic medication, there can be the occasional temptation to swap each other’s medications. When they were actively using, they shared works, pills, anything and everything. Now that they’re stable, it may not seem like a big deal to to take a partner’s medication if one has run out or misplaced their own. However, it is a big deal and should be always avoided. Successful recovery is not easy. It requires personal discipline and a strong commitment to do what is right, even when doing the right thing is challenging and difficult.

While couples in treatment can be a complicated affair, it can work and does work everyday around the country. It is important to note that a couple may not progress at the same rate. While one partner stabilizes quickly on methadone and discovers their cravings & withdrawal disappear, the other partner may have uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and struggle with urges to use illicit drugs for a period of time.

Good methadone programs will strive to support the couple’s mutual effort to be drug free together, but they will also work with each patient separately. This will include being in separate treatment groups and having separate individual counseling sessions.

With private self-pay programs, there are instances in which a couple may not have enough money for each person to dose on a particular day. This can pose a stressful dilemma for the couple and there is often no easy answer. One member of the couple may just go without. While there is typically an apprehension that missing a day of dosing will bring about immediate withdrawal sickness, this is often not the case. Since methadone has a long half life and is designed for extended duration, some people discover that they are comfortably maintained even through a missed day of dosing. This is not a recommended practice since missing doses is often correlated with illicit drug use, but it is an interesting and useful piece of information.

In the final analysis, a “couple” can suffer for years with simultaneous opioid addictions and a severely compromised quality of life. Choosing to enter drug treatment, either as a couple or as separate individuals, is a positive decision that should be supported wholeheartedly by family, friends, employers, recovery self-help programs, and the treatment community.

Suboxone Benefits Overshadowed By Fear and Judgment of Bangor City Council

progressSuboxone is medically approved to treat opioid addiction and withdrawal in the United States, and opioid replacement therapy is a documented, evidence-based best practice. That being said, the city council of Bangor, Maine voted 7-2 against the expansion of opioid treatment services in Bangor that would allow existing treatment programs to offer additional Suboxone (buprenorphine) services to addicted people seeking treatment.

Council members were quoted as saying that Bangor had done more than its fair share of helping the addicted population, referencing the fact that many people travel from outside the area to participate in one of Bangor’s three opioid treatment programs.

This moratorium on expanding Suboxone will leave many to struggle with their severe addictions while viable opioid treatment services could be made available to help them. However, the Council wanted more time to consider whether the expansion of opioid treatment would be a good idea for the city. The temporary ban generated considerable dissension once again showcasing that fear & judgment are still barriers to treating people suffering with addictive disorders.

Progress has most definitely been made over many years with the nationwide adoption of opioid replacement therapy. Nonetheless, people continue to fear and judge those things which they do not understand. Simply put, this is human nature. I reflect on past years in which family members and other non-treatment professionals came to visit our facilities, became acquainted with our staff, and gained a real understanding as to what treatment is about.

Consistently, nearly all of these individuals experienced a change of heart and a new understanding. Some of them never considered that addiction would affect their family. Understanding addiction is something that a majority of individuals may not care to understand … until they have to. This, too, is human nature.

In any event, progress often has a way of moving forward despite impediments and naysayer opposition. If the need is there, then energy will collect and eventually be channeled toward fulfilling that need. Suboxone and methadone are such excellent medications when used appropriately. They meet an important need. It’s sad to say, but sometimes a problem has to “hit home” before a person comes to a new understanding.

The five Bangor Council members that voted against expanding Suboxone may have never faced addiction, or the loss of a loved one, or the desperate fear & pain that an addict lives with after years of being sick. One can’t help but question the motivations and “critical thinking” of people who would vote against modern medicine and saving lives. Progress will continue, but closed minds must first be opened.