Helping Your Loved One into a Methadone Maintenance Program
Opiate addiction is like a progressive disease that keeps getting worse until the proper treatment is received and then, it must be continuously managed or it may raise its ugly head in a moment’s notice. This isn’t a character flaw, although you and your loved one may both, feel that way. It is simply the nature of opiate drugs and helping your loved one into a methadone maintenance program may be one of the most caring gestures you could ever make for them.
Recognizing the Need
You may have noticed radical changes in your loved one’s behavior due to their use of opiate drugs. They may have become defiant, disagreeable, or disinterested in anything other than their drug seeking behaviors and use. Your loved one may use the drugs continuously or be unable to function in work, society, or at family gatherings without them.
The shame, guilt and pain they go through may be accompanied by lying, stealing, making deals, committing crimes, or engaging in activities that are dangerous to themselves and others. They may even try to convince you that they need the opiates for medical purposes and in fact, they are almost right because without the opiates, they will suffer withdrawals.
According to an article published by the Mt Sinai Journal of Medicine in the U.S National Library of Medicine “Reviews issued by the Institute of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health have defined narcotic addiction as a chronic medical disorder and have claimed that methadone maintenance coupled with social services is the most effective treatment for this condition.”
The Role of the Methadone Maintenance Program
Methadone maintenance programs are designed to be effective by combining counseling, therapies, drug monitoring, and psychosocial services such as medical assistance and referrals, educational, vocational, housing, transportation, domestic, legal, and other valuable resources along with doses of methadone.
Methadone is a long lasting synthetic opioid that reduces cravings and withdrawals for 24 hours or more while blocking the effects of other opioids to deter their abuse. The medication is dispensed on daily basis to help the person maintain a steady state of functioning to improve the quality of their life and the lives of their families with a primary goal of helping them to live satisfying, independent, and productive lives free from drugs.
According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services “A majority of patients require 80-120 mg/d of methadone, or more, to achieve these effects and require treatment for an indefinite period of time, since methadone maintenance is a corrective but not a curative treatment.”
The Benefits of a Methadone Maintenance Program
If your loved one has an opiate addiction, a methadone maintenance program can improve their life by:
- Improving their health and helping them become more physically and psychologically stable to work, go to school, or take care of the other responsibilities.
- Eliminating repeat cycles of intoxication and withdrawals that occur daily or several times a day.
- Saving them time, money, effort, and dignity by not having to find ways to get and use the drugs which can lead them into criminal, immoral, unwanted, or dangerous activities.
- Assessing and treating medical or psychiatric issues.
- Reducing their risks of relapse, overdose, and death.
- Reducing further harm such as sharing needles, IV use, spread of infectious diseases such as HIV, AIDs, Hepatitis, tuberculosis, prostitution, or multiple sex partners.
- Providing outreach assistance and referrals for legal, domestic, social, housing, finances, transportation, or other needs that would benefit long term recovery and reduce relapse potential.
You know, deep inside, that your loved one is not well and you want to do all that you can to make it easier on them, but, there is really only one way an opiate addict can truly get better and that is to stop using the drugs. Family, friends, and other loved ones can play a critical role in motivating the opiate dependent person to enter a treatment program, but, they still need all the support they can get.
They will need a safe, comfortable, and drug free environment to call home and they will need reassurance to keep them on track. The benefits of a methadone maintenance program do not have to be rushed and the psychosocial services and support can be beneficial to you as well.
Finding a Methadone Maintenance Program
Methadone maintenance programs are regulated as Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and according to SAMHSA “Of the 10,144 outpatient-only substance abuse treatment facilities in 2012, 10 percent (1,026 facilities) were OTPs” and 63% were private for profit facilities.
To find treatment facilities, the following resources and websites may be most helpful.
- SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov. For free or reduced cost services, select from the “Payment Assistance” options when designing your search.
Methadone Centers at 1-800-895-1695 or http://www.methadonecenters.com/tag/methadone-maintenance-treatment/