How Do You Start a Methadone Maintenance Program?

starting methadone

To start taking methadone you have to locate a licensed clinic.

Methadone’s effects as a treatment medication have a proven track record when it comes to treating opiate addictions. When used within methadone maintenance programs, the drug works as a type of replacement therapy that allows recovering addicts to wean off the effects of opiate drugs.

With the ongoing rise in opiate addiction rates, it shouldn’t be hard to find and start a methadone maintenance program. As methadone, itself falls under the Schedule II narcotics class of drugs, strict laws and regulations surrounding its use limit the drug’s availability in terms of who can dispense and prescribe it.

Methadone Effects

Opiates slow down the body’s central nervous system functions in much the same way as the brain’s own natural endorphin chemicals do. This means, once a person becomes addicted to opiates, the brain treats the drug as a natural central nervous system chemical process. For this reason, opiate addiction treatment uses replacement medication therapies to help ease addicts off the effects of long-term opiate use.

According to Columbia Psychiatry, methadone – a synthetic opiate medication – mimics the effects of opiates in the brain. Methadone maintenance programs use these effects to help reduce the severity of drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms addicts in recovery experience.

Methadone Maintenance Programs

Methadone’s classification as a Schedule II narcotic places it under the same jurisdiction as any other prescription medication. For this reason, methadone maintenance programs follow strict regulation guidelines when prescribing and dispensing the drug.

Methadone maintenance programs are closely monitored by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration. As a result, all programs must be fully licensed agencies.

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, treatment program protocols dictate –

  • Dosage amount limits
  • Drug testing requirements
  • Guidelines for dispensing take-home dosages

At the start of methadone maintenance program treatment, daily dosages of methadone must be obtained from the clinic.

Finding a Methadone Provider

Methadone maintenance programs exist in most every major city in United States. These programs also operate alongside government-based public assistance programs within various cities. General practice physicians can also provide information on where to find help and how to start methadone maintenance treatment.

Physicians may also obtain the necessary licensing to prescribe methadone. While not all physicians go through the steps required to obtain licensing, most at least know of local area physicians who are authorized to prescribe the drug.

Assessment Process

Methadone treatment guidelines require everyone to go through an assessment process before qualifying for methadone maintenance treatment help. This process entails a series of evaluations designed to determine whether a person will likely benefit from methadone maintenance program treatment.

Once a person starts receiving daily methadone doses, treatment providers continue to evaluate a his or her progress throughout the program. Ideally, prescribed dosage amounts will continue to reduce the severity of withdrawal effects and drug cravings a person experiences.

People who successfully follow the treatment program guidelines may have the option to receive take-home doses of methadone. With take-home doses, participants no longer have to go to the clinic to receive their daily dose of methadone.