How to Get Prescribed Methadone
Methadone is a long-lasting opioid most notably associated with the treatments of opioid addictions, but, is also an effective medication for the purposes of treating chronic and around-the-clock pain. Prescribing practices for methadone vary accordingly and it serves its purposes well when prescribed and used appropriately. However, methadone works differently than any other opioid and has its own synthetic structure. For these purposes and more, methadone dispensing continues to remain under more stringent federal regulations than any other opioid drug.
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Methadone Prescribing Regulations
Methadone used in the treatment of pain is different than methadone used in the treatment of opioid addictions. Under DEA controls, methadone can be prescribed by a DEA registered physician for pain management however prescribing it for the treatment of opioid addiction is illegal unless they are appropriately licensed as an Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) provider or an affiliated OTP provider hub.
In the United States, methadone used in the treatment of opiate addictions must be dispensed daily in conformance with 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 8 and OTP providers or their affiliates must follow the standard practices and guidelines set forth under federal, state, and municipal regulations regarding take home medications, OTP compliance, and other rules. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is tasked with accrediting and monitoring these methadone providers for successful treatment outcomes.
Getting a Methadone Prescription for Pain
Methadone was approved by the FDA for the treatment of pain in 1947, but, it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that increased usage of methadone came about as an alternative to other short-acting opioids like morphine and oxycodone. According to the CDC, “Increased use of methadone since 1999 might have been prompted by growing costs of treating pain with opioids and increasing reports of abuse of other, more expensive, extended-release opioids”
Analgesic effects of methadone last up to 8 hours depending on the patient’s opioid tolerance, absorption, metabolism, and elimination. Methadone is not intended to be prescribed for acute, mild, or “break-through” pain and doses should not be taken unless otherwise prescribed because of its powerful central nervous system depressant effects that decreases breathing and heart rate.
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How to Get Prescribed Methadone for the Treatment of Pain
Generally, methadone prescriptions for pain should never be the first line of treatment and should not be prescribed to someone who is naïve to opioid medications. A qualified doctor can prescribe methadone for pain however, despite the obvious concerns and unfortunately, many do.
Before trying to get a methadone prescription for pain, the person must understand the risks. There is a small difference between appropriate doses of methadone and dangerous ones that can lead to overdose and death.
Methadone builds up and is stored for days in bodily tissue reservoirs where it is later released unchanged into the bloodstream. This is highly beneficial in preventing cravings and withdrawals associated with opioid addiction for up to 36 hours however, devastating to those who take too much. A patient being treated for pain must be well informed of the risks and side effects while keeping their physician informed of their concerns.
For patients who have compromised health, are elderly, or abusing other substances, methadone use for pain can be riskier, especially during the first few days of use and it is important to take the medication as directed under a trusted physician’s care. Many pain conditions do not warrant methadone use according to the CDC and in 2008, the FDA issued a warning regarding these issues.
Getting a Methadone Prescription for Opioid Addiction Treatment
According to the SAMHSA, “Methadone’s pharmacological profile supports sustained activity at the mu opiate receptors, which allows substantial normalization of many physiological disturbances resulting from the repeated cycles of intoxication and withdrawal associated with addiction to short-acting opioids. Therapeutically appropriate doses of methadone also attenuate or block the euphoric effects of heroin and other opioids.”
Methadone has been proven to reduce cravings and withdrawals for opioids including heroin and prescription painkillers up to 24 – 36 hours depending on the patient’s tolerance and dependency levels and other biological factors as previously described. Its cross-tolerance to these other opioids makes it most beneficial in the treatment of opioid addictions to reduce illicit abuse, IV use and the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV, AIDs, Hepatitis, and tuberculosis. It also contributes to the reduction of crime, overdoses, mortality, and immoral behaviors that are commonly attributed to opioid abuser populations and when combined with counseling, therapies, and psychosocial services in OTPs, methadone improves overall health and social functioning..
How to Get a Prescription for Opioid Addiction Treatment
When considering the harms associated with illicit opioid abuse, methadone can be thought of as a safer alternative as long as it is prescribed and used appropriately. Although, methadone can only be prescribed by an OTP provider under certain regulations for the treatment of opioid addictions, it has the longest running history of effectiveness in treating these conditions.
In detox and maintenance programs, methadone is dispensed daily until the person establishes a certain amount of time in treatment with compliance rules and qualifications defined under the federal, state, and other OTP administrator rules to qualify for take home medications.
Effective in 2013, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) “the minimum age of 18 is required unless a parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult designated by the relevant State authority consents in writing to such treatment.” Other than that, there are few limitations to getting a methadone prescription through an OTP with a documented history of opioid dependence and safety in use as determined by the provider.
Recognizing the impact of opioid addictions in America, OTP providers have expanded their access to these life-saving treatments making them available through physicians, health centers, hospitals, and rehab facilities outside of the traditional methadone clinics and help is just a phone call away. Call 800-891-9360 toll free anytime to find the help you need.