When we think of a methadone maintenance clinic, we often think of those places in inner cities where people are standing in line waiting for their daily dose of methadone. Not so, anymore.
As of 2001, a major overhaul was made to the methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) system which promises easier access to these services and they are now being provided in both private and public methadone treatment centers across the United States.
History of MMT
Heroin addictions soared during the Vietnam War as soldiers gained access to these drugs overseas and the Counter Culture baby boomers started experimenting more with illicit drugs. Crimes and diseases surrounding heroin abuse created the need to initiate a public system to manage these issues and methadone maintenance programs were established in 1971.
These public programs would be funded by the government in an effort to reduce crime and heroin IV use, while dispensing methadone on a day to day basis, under strict regulations and monitoring. In addition to daily doses of methadone, the clinics were required to provide education, counseling, resources, and referral services as part of the treatment programs.
Most MMT programs were located in strict geographical zones where the heroin abuse was more prominent. Those outside of the area were left with a tremendous burden to get to the MMT clinics let alone get there daily. Today, treatment programs are available in a broader range of areas and because of the system changes, private treatment centers are now being accredited to provide MMT also.
Treatment at Methadone Maintenance Clinics
Public methadone maintenance clinics specialize in MMT treatment and are specially licensed to dispense methadone under the strict monitoring regulations. Although they treat opioid addictions as well as heroin addictions, they are not involved in other treatments. Because they are funded by the U.S. taxpayers, addicts are required to comply with the treatment plans as they are prescribed or predefined by the clinic. These programs are free to Medicaid recipients and services are usually cheaper than private clinics.
Private methadone maintenance clinics are under the same regulations as public clinics and according to the CDC,” New federal regulations, which have overhauled the MMT system, promise a more flexible approach and improved delivery of these needed, life-saving services.” The changes were made to avail greater access to treatment for opioid IV users and HIV prevention.
These clinics offer other treatments for specific programs according to what they are qualified and licensed for. Some clinics may limit access to methadone maintenance treatment until after prior treatment approaches approve unsuccessful. They may offer other medically managed treatment options using naltrexone, or buprenorphine. In cases of heavy opioid abuse or IV use, however, these private clinics have specialized intensive care programs that are more beneficial than an outpatient program would normally be.