Methadone Clinics – What They Are and How They Work

Coping with an opioid addiction can often feel like a losing battle. Detoxing, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings can make it feel like it is impossible to stop using. Thankfully, methadone clinics have been proven to provide a way for people to stop using opioids through replacement therapy. By blocking the effects of opioids and diminishing the physical withdrawal symptoms, methadone is a viable treatment option for people seeking help with quitting opioids.

Methadone Clinics - What They Are and How They Work
A methadone clinic is a place for people seeking treatment for addiction to various opioid drugs, including heroin, morphine, and oxycontin. By administering methadone, clinics use replacement therapy to help patients deal with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings experienced when they stop using other opioids. All clinics are state and federally regulated and are certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Methadone clinics offer a variety of treatment options for people who are ready to stop using opioids. While methadone itself is an opioid, it has unique characteristics that make it effective as a treatment and rehabilitation tool. The drug’s time-release formula makes it stay active in the body’s system for 24 to 36 hours. During this time, methadone actually blocks the euphoric effects of other opioids. It also eliminates the often painful withdrawal symptoms people experience when they stop using other opioids.

When a patient first visits a methadone clinic, they are screened and evaluated by the clinic staff. Methadone can become addictive and, based on a patient’s history of drug use, the clinic may decide to closely monitor the patient’s intake. This type of treatment can be dangerous for people with certain health conditions. It is important to find out everything about each patient’s background before beginning this type of treatment.

Treatment plans vary depending on each patient’s individual needs. Some patients may need to be closely monitored and have their doses strictly regulated. Others may only need to visit on a weekly basis if they have shown the ability to regulate their own doses. Therapy and counseling may also be involved in some treatment plans.

If a patient has a severe, ongoing opioid addiction, they may begin their treatment with a medical detox. During the detox, they are closely monitored around the clock by doctors, nurses, and other clinical staff to ensure their safety, comfort, and well-being during the turbulent withdrawal stage. The initial physical withdrawal symptoms may last between a week and up to a month.

Methadone clinics may offer and recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help patients cope with the mental aspects of opioid addiction. After the physical withdrawal symptoms have passed, patients may start to experience cravings, anxiety, irritability, and stress. CBT helps by preparing patients for the challenges that they may face after going through the physical withdrawal stage and it helps them to avoid relapse and stay on the right track.

Methadone clinics may be a good choice for people seeking to stop using different opioid drugs. Taking methadone as part of a comprehensive recovery program has been shown to be effective for many people. However, methadone treatment is not for everyone, and there are alternative treatments available for patients who choose to take a different route.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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