Are All Methadone Clinics the Same?

Many people believe all methadone clinics to be the same, but in reality, there are different types of methadone clinics, all run by different organizations and supplying different treatments to their patients. It is important to choose the correct methadone clinic for you in order to find the right fit and receive the most benefits for your opioid addiction treatment. Each methadone clinic is different from others, and there are a number of reasons why this is not only beneficial but necessary.

Dispensing of Methadone

According to the National Library of Medicine, methadone… “is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in patients who were addicted to opiate drugs and are enrolled in treatment programs in order to stop taking or continue not taking the drugs.” The medication can be used to prevent opioid abuse of any type, including illegal and prescription opioids, but it can also be used in different ways.

Some methadone clinics help patients by putting them on methadone for a short period of time (from several weeks to around three months), slowly tapering the dosage of the drug until the patient is able to stop taking it altogether. This is done to reduce the withdrawal symptoms the individual experiences as they work on ending their dependence on and abuse of opioids. The process is called medically-assisted withdrawal, and some methadone clinics use it to treat all their patients in a program that utilizes therapy, resocialization, and a number of other treatment methods.

Other methadone clinics may keep patients on the drug for a much longer time. This is because certain individuals need to be maintained on opioids instead of tapering the dosage slowly right away. These individuals may stay on methadone for years or even indefinitely, as some opioid addicts “will not or cannot stop taking the drug” (Harvard Medical School). In addition, there are clinics that use either technique depending on a patient-by-patient basis.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Clinics

Certain methadone clinics are inpatient-based while others are outpatient-based. This is necessary because every patient will not benefit from only one or the other. In many cases, a certain patient may need to attend one type and then the other afterward.

  • Inpatient clinics allow patients to stay at the facility for a predetermined amount of time. Patients receive 24-hour access to treatment and medical care and are able to stay in a controlled environment. These facilities usually allow family visits and often offer family and couples counseling. Individuals who need inpatient treatment often have little or no support system, co-occurring mental disorders, or intense addictions for which they require round-the-clock supervision and treatment.
  • Outpatient clinics provide treatment to patients who do not need 24-hour medical care and who want to continue living their lives while receiving treatment. Patients are often asked to visit the clinic once a day to receive their medication and other treatments. This option is more beneficial to individuals who have a strong support system and don’t have additional psychological disorders that often co-occur with addiction.

Because different patients may need either inpatient or outpatient treatment, it is important that different types of methadone clinics exist to fulfill both needs.

Private Clinics vs. Free Clinics

There are a number of methadone clinics that provide either partial-free or all-free treatment to patients. Other clinics may offer programs where patients can pay on a sliding fee scale. However, there are also a number of more expensive clinics that do no provide free treatment but instead offer more luxury accommodations and amenities as well as healing activities like yoga, massage, acupuncture, etc. Some patients can afford the latter type of facility while others need treatment that is as low-cost as possible.

Patient-Specific Clinics

methadone clinics

Many methadone clinics address patient-specific needs.

There are many types of methadone rehab centers that are specific to certain patients. These include:

  • Male-only facilities
  • Female-only facilities
  • Adolescent facilities
  • LGBT+ facilities
  • Poly-drug or alcohol abuser facilities

These cater to the specific needs of certain patients, which is necessary because some groups have very unique needs when it comes to their addiction treatment. For example, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Factors unique to women that can influence the treatment process include issues around how they come into treatment (as women are more likely than men to seek the assistance of a general or mental health practitioner), financial independence, …pregnancy and child care,” and the experience of physical and sexual abuse being more common in addicted women than addicted men. Adolescents also have unique needs “stemming from their immature neurocognitive and psychosocial stage of development” (NIDA).

What are the Similarities Among Methadone Clinics?

Even though every methadone clinic is different and patients should look for the one that best suits their needs, there are a number of similarities across all methadone centers. For example, methadone is a potent drug and is commonly abused by individuals looking to feel the same high other opioids provide. Therefore, it is a schedule II drug, and all methadone clinics must follow the specific laws and guidelines set by the government in order to dispense methadone.

As stated by the National Institute of Justice, methadone treatment “is one of the most monitored and regulated medical treatments in the country. Therefore, methadone, “when used in the treatment of opioid addiction, can only be dispensed by federally licensed opioid treatment programs (OTP).” Any program that does not have this certification through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is not registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency is not a legal methadone clinic.

In addition, all methadone clinics must also provide more than just methadone treatment and dispensation. The drug itself can be very helpful in treating opioid addiction, but other treatments, like therapy, are required for an individual to have a well-rounded recovery and overall beneficial treatment experience. Some facilities do offer more treatments than others, though, having programs that allow patients to try holistic treatments while other clinics do not provide these options.

All methadone clinics are not the same, but they do have some similarities. Methadone treatment is one of the most popular treatments for opioid addiction in the country, and different clinics exist in order to meet the various needs of many different patients.

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