Traditionally, methadone was only dispensed in a methadone clinic in the urban areas where heroin and other opioid addictions were most common. Since the first ones were established in the early 1970’s, these facilities needed to be located in geographical areas where they could service the most people under the strict rules and regulations required for them to operate.
Today, methadone clinics can be found in locations that you may least expect because of overall improvements in the delivery of methadone treatments.
Changes in Methadone Treatment for Opioid Addiction
In 2001, federal regulations were relaxed with oversight shifted from the FDA to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services SAMHSA for the dispensing of methadone and buprenorphine products in the treatments of opioid addictions. The new system would require that the treatments be provided based on best practice guidelines that parallel mainstream healthcare in a SAMHSA accredited Opioid Treatment Program (OTP).
The changes were expected to improve the quality of care provided in an OTP with increased professional discretion and individualized treatment plans, increasing the focus on performance outcomes, and expanding the availability of opioid addiction treatments to more individuals who would benefit from the life saving services they offer.
More recently, methadone clinics, both public and private, have been established in areas where traditionally, they were not allowed. Stigmas surrounding these clinics, however, may still prevent them from certain communities.
According to the SAMHSA, “Understanding and acceptance of opioid addiction as a medical disorder by patients, health care providers, the media, and the public have increased.” As more people recognize the benefits versus the risks of treatment necessity, the negative views of methadone clinics are changing and access to them has increased.
Methadone clinics are now operating in OTP settings of stand-alone clinics, hospitals, and health care centers that may be publicly funded to reduce the costs of treatments to the individual. More often, methadone clinics are offered in private OTP facilities that have been certified by the SAMHSA to provide methadone treatments in intensive outpatient rehab centers, physician’s offices, and other affiliated and accredited hubs.
Why Choose a Methadone Treatment Program?
Many opioid addicts suffer from poor health conditions, have dysfunctional relations in their families, are homeless, unemployed, and engage in unhealthy, immoral, or unsafe activities that make them less likely to refrain from illicit opioid use without extensive help.
Overdose and relapse potentials are extremely high for these individuals and methadone programs have proven to be effective in reduce the contracting and spreading of communicable diseases, infections, IV use, criminal and other negative behaviors associated with illicit opioid use while improving overall health and social functioning capabilities.
You will be required to appear daily for the medication and to comply with the program rules of the facility and in accordance with state and federal regulations. Once you establish time in the program, you may become eligible for take home doses which helps to relieve the daily methadone clinic trips, but, this could take up to a year or more and is determined on a case by case basis.
According to the SAMHSA Physician’s Guide, “registered OTPs can dispense methadone to individuals, with less frequent visitations, where “their dependence on opioids is managed by a steady dose of methadone; regular urinalyses have established that these patients no longer use any illicit drugs; and they have demonstrated the ability and willingness to handle a supply of the medication safely, at home.”
If you are already active in a methadone maintenance program, your options may be more open. Many physicians and OTP hubs are available to provide medical maintenance where up to a month’s supply can be prescribed for those transferring from a formal methadone maintenance program.
Considering the Costs
Beyond the travel distance, methadone clinic fees for services and medication costs will vary. While there are publicly funded facilities available, they may not be as close or may have a waiting list to get in. Time is of the essence. When you make the choice to seek treatment, it needs to be readily available and for, that reason, you should explore the payment options available through private facilities.
You may find the extra cost of treatment in one clinic more beneficial because it offers more of the psychosocial assistance you need for family involvements, educational, vocational, and social improvements.
Where to Look
On-line access to providers and their services is a good place to start exploring your options. To find more information on an accredited OTP by your state, visit the SAMHSA website @ http://dpt2.samhsa.gov/treatment/directory.aspx. An accredited provider in this directory must follow the best practice guidelines for opioid addiction treatments using methadone and maintain successful treatment outcomes under the SAMHSA’s monitoring system.
Local hospitals, health centers, and pain management physicians may be affiliated with nearby methadone clinics or be able to offer acceptable choices because they frequently come in contact with opioid dependent individuals in their everyday course of business.
More information and referrals can be obtained through the following websites:
- SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. For free or reduced cost services, select from the “Payment Assistance” options when designing your search.
- The United States Resource Center and Online Directory of Methadone Treatment Clinics at 1-800-381-1807 or http://www.methadone.us/methadone-information-for-clients/
- Methadone Clinic Locator at http://www.methadonecliniclocator.com/
- The American Methadone Treatment Association (also for state funded programs) at http://www.americanmethadone.org/
- Methadone.US at http://www.methadone.us/methadone-clinics/