Who Can Prescribe Methadone?

As the first government-approved medication therapy for opiate addiction treatment, methadone has a 50-plus year track record as an effective opiate addiction treatment. According to the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, methadone, a synthetic opiate drug, works well at relieving the cravings and withdrawal effects experienced in recovery. In effect, methadone acts as a replacement therapy for addictive opiates.

As far as who can prescribe methadone goes, federal regulations assign strict guidelines for prescribing and dispensing purposes when used in the treatment of opiate addiction. However, methadone’s use in treating pain-related conditions carries fewer restrictions.

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The Narcotic Addiction Treatment Act

methadone treatment

Methadone can be obtained at specialized clinics.

Regulations dictating who can prescribe methadone were enacted through the passing of the Narcotic Addiction Treatment Act of 1974 and the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. According to the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration, these laws lay out the guidelines for the approval process and licensing requirements for physicians and clinics who can prescribe methadone as an opiate addiction treatment.

Physicians seeking to administer and dispense Schedule II controlled substances, such as methadone must be registered through the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Narcotic Treatment Program. Registration allows treatment providers to administer methadone for detoxification and maintenance treatment purposes.

Methadone Regulatory Controls

Methadone exists as one of the most tightly regulated prescription-based drugs on the market. Considering methadone has essentially set the standard as far as opiate addiction medication therapies go, federal and state laws help to prevent the abuse of this drug. In effect, regulatory controls regarding who can prescribe methadone were put in place to reduce illegal administering and dispensing of the drug.

Regulatory controls also provide standard treatment protocols for administering methadone. Standard treatment protocols include:

  • Initial dosing procedures
  • Dosage amounts
  • Drug testing schedules
  • Rules for take-home prescriptions

Medical Maintenance Programs

Traditional clinics require patients to obtain methadone doses from the treatment facility on a daily basis. This restriction helps to curtail the abuse of the drug as well as provide patients with needed behavioral treatment sessions.

People who’ve maintained abstinence for a certain period of time qualify for medical maintenance program treatment. As one of the few program types who can prescribe methadone, medical maintenance programs dispense prescriptions for take-home purposes and also provide needed medical treatment in cases where addicts also struggle with chronic medical conditions.

Who Can Prescribe Methadone as a Pain Treatment?

Along with its use as an opiate addiction treatment, methadone can also be used to treat conditions involving chronic pain symptoms. Compared to the tight restrictions surrounding its use in addiction treatment, restrictions on who can prescribe methadone for pain treatment purposes are minimal. Any clinician who has a Schedule II DEA license to administer prescription drugs qualifies as one who can prescribe methadone.

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Considerations

Methadone’s addiction potential carries the same grave consequences as any other type of opiate-based drug. While methadone’s chemical make-up does have certain built-in safeguards, it can still produce a “high” when used with other drugs.

The minimal restrictions for prescribing methadone as a pain treatment further increase the potential for abuse. In effect, who can prescribe methadone has more to do with the drug’s treatment purpose than the actual risks surrounding the abuse of the drug.