Methadone Treatment Centers Month By Month: a 6-Month Experience

Methadone treatment centers help people addicted to opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription pain medications to recover from addictions and rebuild their lives through medical interventions and a variety of support services.  Treatment can last for as long – or as short – a time as needed, but the first six months of treatment are usually the most intensive.  Here’s a short guide to what you can expect in the first six months at a methadone treatment center.

The First Month:  Assessment and Treatment Plans

The first month of treatment in a typical methadone treatment center can be intensive and time consuming.   It begins with an initial appointment for assessment and treatment planning.  New clients meet with methadone clinic staff for an intake that includes a complete health history, blood and urine tests, and a general physical exam.  Based on those tests, an initial dose of methadone is established and clients get information on how to take their daily dose of methadone at the clinic.

At this time, too, clients are set up with a treatment plan and a schedule for the center services they’ll be using for the next few months.  Typically, people starting a methadone treatment program are expected to attend individual counseling once a week, and participate in at least one weekly support group that relates to their situation.

During this first month, methadone dosage is monitored frequently, so it can be adjusted up or down – usually up, since a starting dose is typically quite low while the body adjusts.  Clinic staff monitor how well a client is responding to methadone and whether any withdrawal symptoms are appearing.   Frequent urine tests for drug use are usually required during the first stages of methadone treatment, too.

Months Two to Four: Settling In

Methadone Treatment Centers

Methadone treatment plans work to help you achieve long-term recovery.

As time goes by, the intense activity of the first month begins to taper off. If a client is doing well and completing all the program’s requirements, the counseling schedule may switch from weekly to twice monthly sessions.   After a period of adjustments, the methadone dose is generally stable and daily clinic visits are routine, although doses can change whenever needed.

Nearly half of all those in a treatment program abstain from using opiates during the first month of treatment, but by the second and third months, motivation and commitment can begin to wane.   During this time, center staff might add other kinds of support services aimed at long-term recovery to the treatment plan.

Months Four to Six: Looking Toward the Future

Methadone treatment can take as long as a person needs it to, but addiction specialists say that it’s best to continue for at least 12 months.  By the fourth month of treatment and beyond, it’s time to look toward long-term recovery.  Methadone dosing is usually stable, but monitoring continues so that any needed adjustments can be made.

By this time, clients who have complied with all the clinic requirements and tested clean for other drugs may be allowed to take methadone on their own, without having to come to the clinic every day. They may keep on meeting with counselors twice a month, or just once monthly.  As recovery progresses and circumstances change, they may be referred for new services to help with other aspects of their lives.  They may still attend support groups every week, or less often if they choose.   As the six-month mark nears, the focus shifts to sustaining the progress that has been made and dealing with new challenges to recovery.

Methadone treatment centers aim to provide the services and support each individual needs to get – and stay – off addictive opiate drugs.  From that initial appointment forward, the first six months in a treatment center can lay the groundwork for a recovery that lasts a lifetime.

Are you looking for help to break the cycle of opiate addiction?  We have the answers you need.  Contact us at 800-530-0431Who Answers? to find the treatment that’s right for you -right now.

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