Can MMT Work in a Therapeutic Community Setting?

MMT can be part of a therapeutic community (or TC) program. While many adjustments may need to be made to the treatment itself, it can be highly beneficial to certain populations to attend a TC program that provides methadone maintenance treatment.

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What is a Therapeutic Community?

According to the National Institute of Justice, methadone maintenance programs can be found in any type of treatment setting. Most of these facilities tend to be outpatient-based, but there are a number of residential programs that do utilize MMT.

A therapeutic community is a type of residential treatment program that is more intensive and lasts longer than most other rehab programs (usually a year or longer).

Therapeutic communities, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, place their focus on resocialization and helping the patient change the way they interact with others and themselves.

This is thought to help minimize the issues the individual is having with ending their substance abuse. In addition, it also helps the individual view their drug use in a different way, and it allows patients to develop accountability and responsibility, two skills that will help them stay abstinent in the future.

Can MMT Work in a TC Setting?

Therapeutic Community Setting

Therapeutic communities focus on improving interpersonal interactions.

In the past, there has been concern over patients receiving MMT in a TC setting because

  • The healthcare professionals at the TC worry that the patients on methadone will undermine the progress of those not on the drug.
  • Methadone-dependent individuals going into treatment become afraid to choose a TC, worried that their program will tout abstinence over all else.

Though some studies have praised the benefits of patients receiving methadone as part of a more hands-off, outpatient approach, the NIDA states, “These issues, although significant, need not be prohibitive.”

This is based largely on a study conducted over a two-year period that showed patients who were taking methadone in a therapeutic community fared just as well as the others in the program who were not on the medication.

Of course some adjustments need to be made to the program for those on MMT. Patients must either be able to receive their medication on site or they must be taken to a place where they can receive it. Both the staff and the patients of the facility must also be taught to understand the benefits and the necessity of methadone in certain cases and why it should not be withheld from those who need it.

Essentially, MMT can work in a TC setting, and while it may be difficult to create the environment that will serve both options, the program will be extremely beneficial to many people.

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