The Need for Improved Access to Methadone Treatment

The need for improved access to methadone treatment can be seen in the ongoing rise of heroin and opiate addiction in the United States. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, opiate addiction rates have become a source of ongoing medical and social problems throughout the country.

Methadone treatment plays a pivotal role within the history of opiate addiction treatment dating as far back as the 1960s. That being so, international methadone treatment models have shown proven success in addressing opiate addiction issues abroad. Improved access to methadone treatment can not only help meet the demand for opiate addiction treatment but also improve recovery rates overall.

History of Opiate Addiction Treatment

During the early 20th century, methadone treatment was administered through medical practices to patients suffering from opiate addictions. With the passing of the Harrison Act of 1914, federal law prohibited the use of methadone treatments for opiate addictions as addicts, at that time, were considered criminals under the law.

treatment for addiction

The use of methadone for addiction treatment is highly regulated in the USA.

Over the years, methadone treatment has gained international recognition as the most effective treatment approach for opiate addiction, according to the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia. Experts in the field view opiate addiction as a chronic disease that requires long-term treatment approaches, such as methadone can provide.

As a synthetic, opiate-based medication, the passing of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 imposed strict guidelines for the dispensing, distribution and use of methadone, according to the U.S. Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Administration. By the late 1990s, federal laws opened up methadone treatment access to medical practices and designated methadone clinics. These laws allowed the use of methadone for detoxification purposes only. Since detoxification only requires short-term treatments, high relapse rates were the result of these strict regulations.

International Methadone Treatment Models

Federal laws in the U.S. enforce strict guidelines for how medical providers can administer methadone treatment. These guidelines entail a highly structured procedure to be used with all patients regardless of individual patient needs or circumstances. Methadone treatment models in other countries vary widely as to who can administer treatment, with many allowing ample leeway in terms of how treatment can be administered.

Within Edinburgh, Scotland as much as 60 percent of general practitioners provide some form of methadone maintenance treatment. Consequently, Edinburgh also sees high enrollment rates with anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of injection drug users receiving needed treatment compared to only 15 percent of IV users in the United States.

Benefits of Improved Access

Existing policies surrounding opiate addiction treatment have created a gap between the addiction treatment field and the medical mainstream. As a result, methadone treatment facilities are left with limited resources and restricted treatment approaches. These conditions account for why so few people can access needed treatment help.

Improved access to methadone treatment programs will make it possible for mainstream physicians to contribute their expertise and knowledge as well as provide opportunities for them to learn more about addiction treatment. As more recovering addicts enter into treatment, the overall effects on social productivity, reduced crime rates and drug-overdose rates will promote ongoing advancements within the addiction field.

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