For those struggling with drug addiction, seeking out care can be a lifesaving decision. However, because there is a stigma around the disease of addiction, there can also be shame and misinformation revolving around the types of available treatment.
One of the most misunderstood addiction treatment options are the methadone clinics. Having a better comprehension of these outpatient treatment centers, including walk-in methadone clinics, may increase the chances that those who need help the most will receive it .
In fact, studies have found that “reducing the stigma surrounding [methadone clinics] will help improve the accessibility, retention, and treatment outcomes.”
What is a Methadone Clinic?
A methadone clinic is treatment facility where patients (primarily those with an opioid addiction) are assisted with physician-prescribed medication and on-site counseling to obtain long-term recovery from drugs.
Stigmas Around Methadone Clinics
Myth #1: Methadone trades one drug for another.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the walk-in methadone clinic is that it simply replaces one drug for another. That’s simply not true, says Melissa Bishop, the MAT division director for Trenton Healthcare Clinic.
“Methadone is medically prescribed by a physician as a stable dose of medication ,” she says. “It helps someone throughout the process of treatment, unlike illegal or abused drugs.”
This monitored medication acts on the same receptors in the brain as the drugs that were being abused (such as heroin or morphine) without producing the same feelings of pleasure (the “high”). By medically controlling the amount of the medication and professionally monitoring the withdrawal process, the person can focus on achieving sobriety without the oftentimes dangerous symptoms that can occur when ridding the body of the drugs. It also has been shown to reduce the chances of relapse.
Myth #2: Only “criminals” and “junkies” need methadone.
Another harmful stigma that surrounds methadone clinics are the prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination of the people that are often most vulnerable.
Studies demonstrate that governmental policies such as “the war on drugs” play a role in enforcing the misconception that individuals who seek addiction treatment are “criminals” or “junkies.” But the truth is that the disease of addiction doesn’t discriminate and anyone—of any socioeconomic class, any profession, or any race—may need methadone treatment to help them recover from opioid addiction.
Trenton Healthcare Clinic opens its doors to anyone who needs assistance, regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, HIV status, sexual orientation, gender, age, or finances.
Myth #3: Methadone is unregulated.
Like any other opioid drug, methadone can fall into the wrong hands and be abused as a street drug. But medication-assisted treatment with methadone is highly regulated and there are federal laws that govern the operation of methadone clinics and the distribution of methadone to treat opioid addiction.
Methadone can only be distributed by specially trained clinicians as part of a medication-assisted treatment program.
The Importance of Methadone Clinics
With the opioid epidemic raging throughout the nation (an estimated 130 people die every single day from overdoses related to heroin and/or synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl), ending the stigma around methadone clinics can save lives.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that methadone clinics save lives: “They help to stabilize individuals, allowing treatment of their medical, psychological, and other problems so they can contribute effectively as members of families and of society.”