Tag Archives: methadone

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.

Youth and Opioid Addiction

In past decades, opioid addiction was skewed more heavily toward an older generation of adults. But today we have larger numbers of youth using opioids and experiencing addiction-related problems at earlier ages. Importantly, research has demonstrated conclusively that those who remain engaged in treatment for six months or more are much more likely to stabilize and to enjoy sustained success with recovery.

A recent Reuters Health article highlights the fact that many opioid-addicted youth are either not yet engaging in treatment or are exiting treatment too early. While more youth are being saved through the overdose reversal drug naloxone, a majority of addicted youth are still not receiving medicated-assisted treatments such as buprenorphine or methadone.

More work is necessary to open up treatment avenues for young adults across America, and to both educate & compel youth to seek MAT (medication-assisted treatment) as soon as possible.

The opioid addiction problem in America will not soon disappear. Drugs continue to find their way across the U.S. border through multiple avenues. Positive efforts are indeed bringing needed change, but the complexity and extent of opioid addiction in the U.S. will require a long-term, sustained commitment throughout the country. We must get the message out – especially to young people who may not fully grasp the power of addiction!

Opioid Use Disorder A Modern Reality

Opioid Use Disorder is the newer clinical terminology (from the DSM5) used to describe the full range of opioid problems ranging from mild opioid-related use issues to severe opioid addiction.

The CDC reports that in 2017 there were 72,287 deaths from overdose in the United States. That is certainly an alarming statistic. Of that number, 49,060 of those deaths were from opioids specifically – just in 2017. By contrast, there were 58,200 U.S. fatalities that resulted from the entire Vietnam war.

The good news is that government funding for opioid treatment is finally entering the stream on a local level. Increasing numbers of methadone clinics and physicians authorized to prescribe buprenorphine are moving into America’s more rural areas, ones that have historically been severely underserved.

As treatment for Opioid Use Disorder becomes more readily available, people struggling under the constant pressure of addiction will have an opportunity to apply the brake, and to veer onto a new path of stability and recovery. That being said, it is estimated that presently only 1 person of 10 with an opioid use disorder has sought treatment. For many opioid addicted people, treatment made the difference between life and death.

Choose a new path is more than words for those that have truly done so. Addiction is a highly persistent disease, but change is possible. Commitment and action are the necessary ingredients in opening the door to a new life. Opioid Use Disorder, in particular, is successfully treated with medication assistance. Science, research, and life experience have fortunately reinforced this fact with perfect clarity. Please find a local treatment provider today!

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.