Choosing the Best Outpatient Methadone Treatment Program

With rates of opiate addiction increasing each year, the demand for quality outpatient methadone treatment programs is higher than ever before. Easy access to opiates like heroin and prescription pain pills have exposed large numbers of the population to some of the most addictive substances in existence.

People struggling with chronic opiate addictions have reached a point where any desire to stop using makes little to no impression on their drug-using behaviors. This inability to control or manage drug use continues to spiral out of control leaving addicts hopelessly dependent on the drug.

Methadone’s use as an opiate addiction treatment enables those in recovery to take back control of their lives from the effects of these drugs. Outpatient methadone treatment programs administer methadone in combination with behavioral treatment interventions, which work to undo addiction’s damaging effects on a person’s thinking and behaviors.

Considering the associated dangers that come with addiction, it’s never too soon to seek out needed treatment help. In this regard, choosing the best outpatient methadone treatment program means finding the program that’s best equipped to meet a person’s individual treatment needs.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment

methadone maintenance treatment

Methadone maintenance treatment helps with the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Methadone exists as a synthetic opiate agent that works in ways similar to other opiate drugs. As a synthetic opiate drug, methadone relieves the uncomfortable withdrawal and drug cravings effects addicts experience in recovery without producing the euphoric high associated with addictive opiates, according to the University of Maryland.

Chronic opiate addiction breaks down the brain’s structural integrity and overall chemical make-up, creating a diseased environment that’s dependent on opiates to function. Methadone’s use as a replacement therapy not only supports damaged brain chemical pathways, but also helps restore a sense or feeling of normalcy.

Outpatient methadone treatment programs combine methadone’s effects with ongoing behavioral treatments. Methadone’s soothing effects enable addicts to engage in the recovery process and make the most of behavioral treatment interventions. This combination treatment approach offers addicts the best chance of maintaining abstinence on a long-term basis.

Outpatient Methadone Treatment

Like other outpatient-type programs, outpatient methadone treatment programs enable patients to schedule treatment sessions around their existing schedules. These programs work well for people who have work or family obligations to meet.

With methadone being a highly regulated drug, patients must frequent the clinic on a daily basis to receive methadone doses. This restriction helps to reduce the potential for methadone abuse. Daily visits to the clinic also involve engaging in scheduled behavioral treatments, some of which include:

  • Drug counseling
  • Drug education training
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Support groups

While methadone does a good job at relieving the uncomfortable effects of withdrawal, the risk of relapse has more to do with the “addiction mindset” that drives drug-using behaviors. Behavioral treatment interventions help a person develop the type of mindset that’s more conducive to a drug-free lifestyle.

Dosing Procedures

The success or failure of methadone treatment rests on a person’s receiving the correct daily dosage amount. When dosage amounts run too high, the drug produces the same unwanted “high” effects that addictive opiates cause. Too low a dose won’t provide needed relief from withdrawal and cravings effects, leaving a person at risk of relapse.

Doctors determine the correct dosage level based on a number of factors, including:

  • A person’s overall history of opiate abuse
  • Tolerance level
  • Age
  • Medical status

When overlooked, any one of these factors can offset methadone’s intended therapeutic effects.

Bottom of FormTop of FormBottom of FormFactors to Consider When Choosing an Outpatient Methadone Treatment Program

Licensing Requirements

Methadone falls under a host of federal regulations that restrict who can distribute and administer the drug for addiction treatment purposes. As a synthetic opiate, methadone can also be used for pain treatment purposes, which comes with far fewer regulatory controls.

As a result, methadone (as an addiction treatment) can only be administered through federally licensed treatment programs. Authorized outpatient methadone treatment programs are registered with the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency and certified through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Individualized Treatment Planning

While the effects of opiate addiction can disrupt any number of areas in a person’s life, no two people experience addiction in the same way. For this reason, it’s especially important for treatment programs to provide individualized treatment planning for each person.

Opiate addictions impair normal bodily functioning as well as disrupt a person’s psychological make-up. According to the National Academies Press, people entering outpatient methadone treatment programs often develop a range of problems during the course of addiction that only work to complicate the treatment process. These problems may take the form of:

  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Psychological disorders
  • Legal problems
  • Money problems
  • Relationship problems

The best outpatient methadone treatment programs employ a comprehensive treatment planning process in order to identify a person’s specific treatment needs. This provision greatly increases the likelihood of successful treatment outcomes.

Methadone Dispensing Options

Methadone comes in tablet, powder and liquid forms. Different methadone programs retain the option of dispensing methadone in any one of these forms.

While treatment providers can administer dosage amounts in any one of the three forms, methadone liquid allows for a more precise measurement in terms of dosage levels and amounts. As the effectiveness of methadone treatment hinges on ensuring a person receives the dosage amount that best meets his or her needs, clinics administering methadone in liquid form can better calibrate needed dosage amounts than clinics using tablet and powder forms of the drug.

Daily Living Skills

It’s not uncommon for people entering methadone treatment to lack basic daily living skills, such as maintaining a household, managing finances and holding down a job. During the course of drug use, opiate’s damaging effects all but destroy a person’s functional capacity and sense of accountability. A quality outpatient methadone treatment program provides training in daily living skills, or at the very least refers patients to local agencies that do.


Ultimately, choosing the best methadone program will likely require a little legwork. With the range of programs available, it can be easy to settle on the first one that comes along. Taking the time to find the program that’s right for you will pay off in dividends in the long run.

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