Who Prescribes Methadone Maintenance?
Methadone, a synthetic opiate drug, provides needed relief for people struggling with opiate addiction as well as for those suffering from pain-related conditions. As a prescription opiate, methadone falls within the Schedule II narcotics class of controlled substances.
As with any controlled substance, certain federal regulations apply for any drug that requires a prescription to obtain. Additional federal regulations apply for methadone because of its use as an addiction treatment drug. These regulations dictate who can prescribe methadone for detox treatment as well as for methadone maintenance purposes.
Methadone maintenance programs follow a strict set of guidelines that determine who’s eligible for treatment and how methadone medications will be dispensed.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment
According to the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, methadone maintenance treatment uses methadone, a synthetic opiate drug, as a replacement for addictive opiate drugs. Opiate drugs, in general, all affect the brain in the same way. This means, the brain develops a tolerance to all opiate drugs regardless of the type of drug a person uses. In effect, a person develops a cross-tolerance between different types of opiate drugs.
Since methadone is a synthetic opiate, it works well at relieving drug cravings and withdrawal effects for people in drug treatment. As an opiate class drug, methadone is also a controlled substance. While doctors can prescribe most any type of opiate drug, methadone’s role as an addiction treatment requires tighter regulations to prevent recovering addicts from abusing the drug.
Licensed Methadone Maintenance Programs
Compared to other prescription drugs, methadone’s use in methadone maintenance treatment programs is the most tightly regulated medication on the market. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, methadone treatment programs are monitored by both the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration. For these reasons, only licensed methadone maintenance programs can prescribe the drug.
Regulations surrounding methadone treatment also cover the treatment protocols used by these programs. Treatment protocols covered include –
- Frequency of take-home dosages
- Drug testing procedures
- Dosage amounts
When first starting out in treatment, patients must frequent the facility on a daily basis to receive their daily dose of methadone.
The licensing requirements needed to dispense methadone for addiction treatment purposes doesn’t apply for methadone’s use in treating chronic pain conditions. When used as a treatment for chronic pain, methadone can be prescribed by a physician as well as dispensed from a physician’s office.
Medical Maintenance Provisions
offer a less restrictive treatment process where patients can obtain needed methadone doses from the doctor’s office. Only recovering addicts who’ve made ongoing progress in traditional methadone maintenance programs can qualify for medical maintenance treatment.
Someone who’s progressed through a traditional program will have maintained abstinence from addictive opiate drugs and also abstained from any form of criminal activity. Participants in medical maintenance programs are allowed take-home doses of methadone as opposed to having to frequent a treatment facility every day. As opiate addicts tend to have high rates of HIV, hepatitis and tobacco abuse, medical maintenance programs also make it easier for a person to get needed medical care for conditions caused by opiate addiction.