How does methadone work?
Methadone is a synthetic (man made) opioid that binds to the opiate receptors in the brain. This binding process helps to eliminate opiate withdrawal symptoms, relieve opiate withdrawal sickness, and block the effects of illicit opiate use.
How is methadone different from other opiates/opioids like vicodin, heroin, morphine, percocet, or dilaudid?
Methadone is a slow acting, yet long lasting medication that stays in the system for a much longer duration than fast acting opioids. Fast acting opioids spike quickly, but their effect does not last long. For the opiate dependent individual, this up/down effect creates a painful cycle of temporary relief followed by withdrawal sickness.
What is the ideal dose of methadone?
As with any medication, methadone doses are prescribed by a doctor based on a number of factors including height, weight and age of the patient, level of pain or severity of the addiction being controlled or maintained. On average, most patients who are in a methadone maintenance treatment program will take somewhere between 80-100 mg of methadone each day based on the physician’s assessment of the patient needs.
Is treatment effective?
Over four decades of international scientific research have clearly shown that MEDICATION ASSISTED TREATMENT (MAT) is the safest and most effective treatment currently available to those who are addicted to opioid drugs. A patient should follow his or her treatment plan which will include counseling. This will help the individual achieve his or her goals and rediscover or achieve healthy living.
What happens at my first appointment?
During your first appointment you will meet with a nurse, physician and counselor to talk about your addiction problem and whether methadone treatment is a good fit for you. A clinical/medical evaluation is completed. The counselor will tell you about our methadone treatment program, and review some of the program's goals and guidelines. You are free to ask questions during this appointment or anytime during your treatment.
The clinical evaluation reviews your drug use history, its effects on your life, the presence of any co-occurring disorders like depression, and involves other tasks like signing consent forms and obtaining personal data such as your name, address, and phone number.
The medical evaluation explores your health history, your current general health, and any special medication needs you may have, and verifies your readiness to receive methadone medication. A physical exam is also provided. Once the doctor signs for you to receive methadone, then you will be given your first dose.
How often will I have to visit the program?
Initially each patient has to report daily. This requirement has been established by State & Federal regulation. However, as progress is made, clinic visits are reduced over time. Most patients are able to quickly resume a normal life since they are not having to spend so much time seeking drugs to avoid being sick due to withdrawals. Some start or return to school or learn a trade. Family and social relationships strengthen and they find new freedoms to enjoy life again.
Is it safe for a pregnant mother to take methadone?
Yes, it is considered safe for a pregnant mother to receive methadone. There is consensus that methadone can be safely administered during pregnancy with little risk to mother and infant. In fact, many medical professionals prefer that an opiate dependent mother receive opiate replacement therapy because her body will not be stressed by repetitive withdrawal symptoms. The mother will be at lowered risk for infectious disease, pregnancy complications, and miscarriage. Additionally, mothers in methadone treatment will typically receive much more support and guidance as they prepare for motherhood.
What is counseling like? What issues get addressed in counseling sessions?
Counseling is usually provided through individual sessions, family sessions, or group therapy sessions. The purpose of counseling is to provide a patient with new knowledge, new skills, and the means to remain drug-free while achieving a better quality of life.
Will my participation in a methadone program be kept private and confidential?
Yes, it will. Our treatment program operates in accordance with confidentiality laws that protect your status as a methadone patient. You will decide who is to receive information about your participation in treatment. Some consents for release of information may be desirable such as to a legal professional, family member, or your primary care doctor.