What to Look for in a Methadone Doctor
Methadone doctors have to have many qualifications as well as the ability to understand the needs of their patients. While you may have decided to go to a methadone clinic or treatment center for help with your opioid addiction, it can be difficult to decide which facility is best for you.
Remembering that your doctor will be an essential part of your treatment and recovery process is one of the ways to ensure that you choose the right facility. If you can, meet with your potential methadone doctor before treatment begins, and make sure that you know what to look for in a methadone doctor.
Experience in the Field of Methadone Maintenance and Treating Opioid Use Disorders
The abuse of and addiction to opioids can cause many issues in a person’s life. Social, professional, monetary, and legal issues can appear as a result of opioid abuse, and physical issues will also occur, especially after long-term abuse of these substances. According to CESAR, chronic heroin users “may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses (pus-filled infections, liver disease, and lung-related complications such as pneumonia.”
Having a doctor who understands all of the complications related to opioid abuse, as well as having had treated them before, is often something many individuals look for in a methadone doctor. The experience of treating individuals with addiction helps doctors
- Understand what dosage of methadone is needed by the patient
- Know what to look for in the case of other issues that the patient might not be aware of
- Be aware of the specific needs of addicted individuals
- Be more familiar with the drug itself and how to prescribe it
According to the NIDA, there seem to be “growing accounts of [methadone’s] adverse effects” which may be a result of “physician inexperience” with prescribing the drug itself. This is something that can be more easily avoided when choosing a doctor who has been working with opioid addiction patients for more than a few years.
Compassion Toward Patients and Their Needs
Patients always want to feel that their doctor is compassionate and kind as well as sympathetic to them and their needs. However, this can be especially important in the case of addiction treatment. Patients are often incredibly fragile when they first begin to attend treatment, and having a doctor who is compassionate, understanding, and a good listener will help you feel more secure and well taken care of.
In addition, patients who stay in treatment longer (especially in a treatment program like methadone maintenance which usually lasts a year or more) are prone to have better outcomes afterward. And those patients who feel comfortable with their doctors and the other members of the medical staff at their treatment facility are more likely to stay in treatment longer. This kind of good relationship that patients build with their doctors often has many more beneficial effects on the recoveries of these patients.
Provides Care That Is Specific to Each Patient
The truth is that some methadone clinics (and methadone doctors) view all patients as the same when they are absolutely not. Some clinics do not provide optimal doses to patients because they are giving all patients the same fixed dose. According to the CDC, there is “compelling evidence that doses need to be determined on an individual basis” and that, even though most patients need a dosage that is somewhere between 60 and 120 mg/day, others may need even higher doses in order to achieve good results.
Methadone doctors who understand that care should be specific to each patient are those who will truly are of service to their patients and help them get better more quickly. This means
- Setting up a treatment program for each patient
- Being aware of the fact that this program could call for alterations or changes at any moment as “an individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary” to always meet the needs of the patient (NIDA)
- Giving the patient their own specialized dosage which is optimal for their recovery
- Helping patients through whatever other issues they have and making sure that they are treated for them, whether they are mental disorders, physical issues as a result of opioid abuse, monetary or legal problems, or relationship problems
Compatibility Between You and Your Doctor
This may be the most important thing you should look for in a potential methadone treatment doctor: compatibility between your philosophy and theirs when it comes to your successful treatment and recovery. Many of the above qualities that you may be looking for can be found in a doctor whose feelings are compatible with yours when it comes to your treatment.
If you like your doctor, you will be willing to stay in treatment longer, but it will be much easier for you to deal with all of the aspects of treatment (especially the painful and more difficult times) if your doctor is on the same page as you. Many people choose facilities that are more expensive, when they can afford it, for reasons like privacy, comfort, and the ability to feel relaxed and taken care of. A good methadone doctor should make you feel all of these things, just like a luxury or private treatment facility might do.
Doctors who understand the important aspects of methadone treatment and why it is so successful will be especially beneficial to your treatment. Looking for a doctor who has experience, compassion, preciseness when it comes to individual patient care, and compatibility with your feelings and needs is essential to your long-term treatment and recovery. Many people do not find the right doctor and some have even had less or no success with methadone treatment because of this.
Remember to look for all of the important aspects above in a methadone doctor and you will likely find a treatment center and program that will be beneficial to your recovery while you will be able to have a good relationship with your doctor which will go a long way toward more successful treatment.