- Addiction & recovery
Doctors that Prescribe Methadone
August 4, 2021
Before the opioid epidemic was declared a national health crisis in the U.S., over 399,000 people died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017 that involved prescription and illicit opioids. Opioid use disorder (OUD) is the misuse of opioids in a manner that causes significant distress and impairment. And the medical community has recognized OUD as a chronic relapsing brain disease with a high morbidity and mortality rate. The devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic include opioid misuse, overdose deaths, and the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in 2019, 70,630 people died from opioid-related overdoses.
The overdose deaths due to the opioid epidemic have continued to accelerate during the COVID-19 crisis. Apart from the tragic deaths, what is equally distressing is its effect on the quality of life of people with OUD and their families.
With the growing awareness and concerns of the opioid crisis, methadone was introduced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in the early 1970s. Methadone is the most widely used and researched OUD medication to date. This medication functions by blocking the euphoric effects of other opioids in the brain and helps treat opioid craving and opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone is a safe and effective medication that helps people achieve and maintain long-term recovery when administered as prescribed. However, due to its capacity to cause dependence over prolonged use, methadone can only be prescribed by a licensed practitioner upon careful monitoring and dispensed through a SAMHSA-certified methadone clinic.
Methadone is simply one component of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral therapies to provide individuals with a “whole-person” approach to addiction treatment. Unlike other medications utilized in treating OUD, methadone can only be prescribed by a licensed practitioner within a primary care setting.
There are many regulations doctors are required to adhere to before being licensed to prescribe methadone. Physicians seeking to prescribe and dispense Schedule II controlled medications, such as methadone, must first register under the DEA-Narcotic Treatment Program. Treatment providers who are registered can administer methadone for detoxification and maintenance. Methadone is one of the most strictly controlled prescription medications on the market. Since methadone has largely set the standard for MOUD, federal and state laws help avoid its misuse. In effect, regulatory limitations on who can prescribe methadone have been implemented to prevent unlawful methadone administration and dispensing.
A methadone clinic is a facility that offers medications for OUD maintenance treatment. They are more correctly referred to as “substance use disorder services” because they also provide other medications, such as Suboxone and naltrexone. However, because methadone is the most commonly prescribed medication, this phrase is more predominantly used in association with such facilities.
Methadone clinics provide medications for a specified period of time to assist in overcoming withdrawal symptoms and cravings so individuals in recovery can focus on other aspects of their rehabilitation. They also provide family, group, and one-on-one counseling and other evidence-based therapies to ensure that each individual receives comprehensive care.
Methadone clinics must be approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to administer any OUD medications. And as of 2018, there were over 1,500 methadone clinics across the United States.
How Do Methadone Doctors Provide Treatment?
Methadone doctors first perform a series of in-depth screening and interviews to establish a person’s eligibility for methadone treatment. Once the person’s eligibility is confirmed, methadone doctors begin treatment by developing an individualized treatment plan based on the person’s condition and unique treatment needs.
Methadone is mostly administered on-site. Therefore, people are required to visit the clinic every day to receive their daily dose of methadone. However, certain individuals may be allowed to take home a few doses of the medication for self-administration once it’s clear that they are stable enough to take the prescribed doses unsupervised. Methadone doctors will also advise individuals in MOUD treatment to participate in counseling and therapies to ensure a prolonged healthy recovery. These therapies and counseling sessions will help individuals avoid relapses, deal with stress, repair estranged personal relationships, and learn healthy coping skills.
Services Provided by Methadone Doctors
Methadone doctors differ from one another in terms of their level of qualifications and expertise. However, all doctors that prescribe methadone usually provide the following services for methadone maintenance treatment:
- First, an initial evaluation to determine the eligibility of a person for methadone treatment. The evaluation will also include a physical assessment to determine the person’s general health and the effects of addiction on his/her body.
- Services for pregnancy, such as prenatal care, while also addressing the unique needs of treatment during pregnancy.
- An initial assessment and subsequent periodic assessments to develop and modify treatment plans as required.
- Substance misuse counseling sessions to address the psychological aspects of opioid addiction.
- Regular drug testing to ensure abstinence during treatment.
Benefits of Consulting Methadone Doctors
One of the major benefits of consulting methadone doctors for opioid use disorder is treatment effectiveness. Since methadone doctors specialize in treating opioid dependency, consulting them for overcoming opioid addiction increases the likelihood of long-term recovery.
Consulting methadone doctors is also time-effective and convenient. Rather than spending weeks and months at a residential treatment program, consulting methadone doctors for treatment allows people the flexibility to continue with their daily life with minimal interruptions. It also cuts down the costs associated with accommodation, and thus making methadone maintenance treatment inexpensive compared to inpatient rehab.
How to Find Methadone Doctors Near Me?
To overcome OUD, consulting a highly experienced and dependable methadone doctor increases the probability of long-term abstinence. However, with so many treatment providers in the country, choosing the correct methadone doctor can be challenging. The best method to identify the correct treatment provider is to conduct comprehensive research and seek medical advice to locate possible methadone doctors in your area. You can also contact your insurance carrier to inquire about methadone maintenance programs in your area that are covered by your policy.
Other resources you can utilize to locate a methadone provider that fits your expectations and allotted treatment expenses include local mental health clinics or substance use clinics and the SAMHSA’s website’s: Opioid Treatment Program Directory.
Before deciding to attend a specific clinic, a person will need as much information as possible to determine whether or not that facility is right for them. Using the locator and directory will provide you with information on specific facilities you are interested in and a phone number to call and ask any questions you may have before visiting the center.
Thousands of individuals seek the help of methadone specialists to overcome opioid addictions all over the world. Even though methadone has become the gold standard in treating opioid addiction due to its efficacy, it’s crucial to remember that methadone isn’t a complete cure for addiction. It’s merely a component in a rather comprehensive treatment regimen.
If you are seeking help with your loved one’s addiction, contact us today or complete our quick contact form below, to speak with an addiction treatment specialist.
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