Are All Methadone Treatment Centers the Same?
Methadone treatment centers all use the synthetic opioid drug methadone to help treat patients who have opioid abuse disorders. They are often run by a government or nonprofit organization and employ methods that have been used since the 1960s to treat opioid addiction. However, all methadone treatment centers are not the same.
Similarities Among Methadone Treatment Centers
Methadone treatment centers use the treatment of methadone maintenance to help people recover from their opioid addictions. There are many similarities across the board with it comes to methadone treatment centers, and all or most centers fall into these similar categories.
- Most methadone treatment centers are outpatient based.
- Many of these facilities are beneficial to low income individuals as they are often less expensive treatment costs, work on a sliding fee scale when it comes to payment, or are simply partially or all free to patients without the ability to spend large sums of money on treatment.
- Methadone treatment centers all employ the use of methadone as a treatment for opioid addiction.
- Methadone centers also use therapy as a part of their treatment process.
- According to the NIJ, methadone maintenance treatment “is one of the most monitored and regulated medical treatments in the country.”
- Methadone centers are all “federally licensed opioid treatment programs” that “must be certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration… and registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency.”
- Methadone treatment centers are available all over the country, from suburban to urban areas.
- Patients are often encouraged to remain in treatment for up to a year or more in most methadone treatment clinics.
There are many similarities when it comes to methadone treatment centers. Most of their methods for the treatment of patients are all similar as methadone
- Curbs withdrawal symptoms
- Diminishes cravings
- Blocks the euphoria caused by opioids
- Is taken once a day and administered by healthcare professionals in the facility
- Is heavily monitored by the facility and its staff, as are the patients, in order to ensure that patients do not abuse the drug
- “Does not cause euphoria or intoxication itself (with stable dosing), thus allowing a person to work and participate normally in society” (CDC)
Although this does show that many methadone clinics are similar, they are not all the same. Differences between clinics can make them better or worse for an individual’s recovery, depending on the patient and their needs. Choosing the wrong clinic for your needs could make it much more difficult to recover, so it is important to know the potential differences between methadone clinics before choosing one.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient
As previously stated, most methadone treatment centers are outpatient-based, but there are clinics where methadone is used and distributed where patients live for a specific amount of time. These methadone centers are better for those patients who have more severe addictions, co-occurring mental disorders, and/or no support system at home. Because many people believe that all methadone clinics are outpatient-based, some are reluctant to choose them when they need inpatient treatment. It is important to know that not all methadone clinics are outpatient centers.
Comprehensive Programs vs. Low Intensity Programs
Even though most methadone treatment centers are still outpatient-based, it should be noted that not all outpatient programs are equal in scope and treatment methods as well. According to the NIDA, all outpatient clinics do not provide the same type of intensity, and “low-intensity programs may offer little more than drug education.”
This means that some methadone treatment centers may not provide such treatments as vocational therapy, drug testing, or even the type of behavioral treatments you might be looking for from your treatment facility. While they will provide methadone, they might not have the other holistic, social, or behavioral treatments that you are looking for while other centers may provide much more at no additional cost. This is why finding out as much as you can about a facility before you officially begin to receive treatment there should be part of your search for the right methadone treatment center. Make sure to
- Call and ask about cost, payment scales, treatment methods offered, etc.
- Tour the facility if possible
- Read about the facility online and find out from individuals who went there what their experiences were like
- Have a meeting with a doctor at the facility if possible to learn more about the admitting and treatment process
Other Differences Among Methadone Treatment Centers
There are many methadone treatment centers that specialize in catering to one or more specific groups of individuals. Some of these groups include
- The LGBTQ community
- People with high psychiatric severity
- People who have recently left inpatient care
- Former inmates
These treatment centers work with certain groups of people, making them feel more able to share their experiences with those who understand their situation and more comfortable in group therapy.
Some facilities will also provide other medical treatments like blood testing, treatment for HIV or Hepatitis, tuberculosis, endocarditis, or any other medical issues that may have come about as a result of opioid abuse and addiction. Many facilities cannot afford to provide treatments such as these, but others can and may also give patients random drug testing and other incentives to stay abstinent from illicit opioid use.
Certain facilities may also be particularly focused on helping patients get back into the work force and being financially sound (providing resume building help, legal assistance, help with balancing a budget etc.) while others can be more focused on resocialization and helping patients interact with others. There are also facilities that provide both and neither of these options.
When it comes to behavioral therapy, certain methadone treatment centers employ the 12 step process while others use cognitive behavioral therapy. Most do use a combination of individual and group therapy though, but knowing if you are comfortable with the therapeutic approach going in is highly recommended.
While all methadone treatment clinics often use the same medication to treat patients, they are not all the same themselves. In fact, according to the CDC, the dosing of methadone given is not practiced the same by all facilities as “some clinics administer fixed doses to all patients” while others base the dosage amount on the individual. Methadone treatment centers are not all the same which is why you should know as much about your clinic as possible and choose based on your specific needs.