Your decision to enter treatment for opioid addiction is an important one and while you may have considered methadone maintenance treatment after failed attempts to quit using opioids in the past, you’re still not sure of whether or not it’s right for you.
According to the Harvard Medical School, “Opiates are outranked only by alcohol as humanity’s oldest, most widespread, and most persistent drug problem.” Methadone maintenance offers a long-term treatment option available for anyone who has a history of opioid dependence and combines a multitude of comprehensive services to help you get where you need to be.
It’s more than just a detox that does little on its own to provide long-term recovery. It has the longest running history of success in providing effective treatment approaches for those who need it most.
How Does Methadone Work?
Methadone is an opioid agonist that works in ways similar to morphine, but, much slower than other opioids when delivered in appropriate doses. It can be used in both short-term and long-term detox to reduce the cravings and withdrawals from other opioids and in maintenance therapies to reduce the repeat intoxications and withdrawals that those who are dependent on drugs like morphine or heroin go through sometimes, several times a day.
As methadone builds up in the bodily tissues, its slow release can provide relief for 24 hours or more, allowing the individual to pursue other quality improvements in their lives and improve overall health and social functioning. As it keeps them from the constant cravings and opioid seeking activities without producing all of the adverse effect of other opioids, it also builds a cross-tolerance to those drugs to block their effects and deter their abuse.
What is Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
If you have been using opioids for a while or heavily, you are aware of the impact on your health and your lack of ability to function without them. No matter how many attempts to quit or prior rehab attempts, it seems that relapse is always just around the corner. You are not alone.
The cravings for illicit opioids can go on for months or years and while some people manage to get a hold on their lives with constant vigils and efforts, opioid addiction is a relapsing disease and everyone is affected differently. For many, the changes are too difficult or it becomes a lifelong struggle to stay abstinent with every episode of relapse throwing you right back in the throw of addiction.
Methadone maintenance is an opioid treatment program (OTP) that provides the SAMHSA‘s recommended treatment approaches including the daily dispensing of methadone combined with comprehensive services that helps to retain patients in treatment long enough to resolve and/or manage their distressing issues without resorting to illicit opioid abuse again.
Comprehensive Services Provided in Methadone Maintenance Treatment
People who are dependent on opioids tend to have a number of health and social problems, including high rates of co-occurring physical and mental health issues, disease transmission and infection risks, poly-substance abuse, overdose, and early mortality. They may have difficulty in finding and holding jobs, maintaining stable relationships, being responsible parents, obeying the law, or maintaining the most basic survival needs as the opioid drugs take more and more control in their lives.
Methadone maintenance providers must be registered and certified by the SAMHSA as an opioid treatment program (OTP) that the SAMHSA recommends “offer at least the following services:”
- Comprehensive psychosocial assessment
- Initial and yearly medical assessment (physical examination and laboratory testing
- Medication dispensing
- Drug tests
- Identification of co-occurring disorders and neuropsychological problems
- Counseling to stop substance abuse and manage drug craving and urges
- Evaluation of and interventions to address family problems
- HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing, education, counseling, and referral for care
- Referral for additional services as needed
Is Methadone Maintenance Treatment Right For You?
There are certain factors that you should consider when making this choice. First, you will be required to appear daily at the facility for methadone dosing until you can be eligible for take-home doses. The time it takes to determine this eligibility is guided by federal, state, and program administrator rules and regulations with decisions based on your compliance and the safety in allowing you to do this.
Therefore, you should consider the costs and time of travel daily and your ability to make that commitment, but, don’t get discouraged, these programs are becoming more accessible daily in locations that are probably closer to you than you think. To find an accredited OTP in your area, visit the SAMHSA OTP facility locator and contact the facilities listed to get information on affiliated providers that may be even closer.
Today, methadone maintenance treatment can be found in a variety of settings that make access to treatment more convenient to those who need continued support, guidance, and medication therapy to live a happy, satisfying, and productive life.
The stigmas are going away and as more of society recognizes the burdens of opioid addiction costs over methadone maintenance treatment costs there are ever-growing public-private contribution to help offset them. Most OTP providers will help you find the way to pay treatment through insurance, grants, funds or payment plans.
You should never restrict yourself to the any timeframes for treatment. It takes time to overcome many issues and methadone maintenance can make the services you need available as long as necessary. For some people, it becomes an indefinite choice.