When it comes to combating the ongoing opioid crisis that continues to claim thousands of lives every year in the U.S., it’s of the utmost importance to understand effective and available treatment methods for opioid addiction—including methadone treatment.
One of the most well-known, but often misunderstood treatment options is methadone. The FDA-approved and highly regulated methadone, which is distributed at outpatient methadone clinics and methadone treatment centers, manages withdrawal symptoms and side effects of opioid withdrawal and can help aid in the overall recovery process.
Recovery Centers of America provides medication assisted treatment (MAT) that includes methadone for patients who are hoping to achieve sobriety from opioid addiction, including addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers.
What is Methadone?
First approved for use in the United States in 1947 and made for widespread use in the 1970s, the long-acting synthetic drug methadone has since become the primary means of treating opiate addiction.
According to the Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Federal Regulation of Methadone Treatment, hundreds of thousands of people are treated with methadone at methadone clinics and methadone treatment centers each year.
Methadone can not only save lives, but it can also save taxpayers billions of dollars every year as the cost of the opioid epidemic continues to skyrocket.
An affordable and accessible option for those struggling with opioid addiction, methadone, and other medication assisted treatments (MAT) have proven to be helpful in the recovery and rehabilitation process.
Methadone dosages are personalized to each patient’s individual need, and treatment with methadone is accompanied by other behavioral treatment programs including counseling and 12-step programs.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment
Methadone is administered by medical staff once a day, in a liquid solution. Methadone is only to be provided at a licensed methadone clinic or methadone treatment center under the guidance of trained healthcare providers.
Methadone treatment is not a “quick fix” for treating opioid addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that when it comes to methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered to be the minimum length of treatment, and for some patients, treatment can go for many years in order to maintain sobriety.
Methadone maintenance, in coordination with the other medication assisted treatment programs (including individual, group and family counseling, 12-step programs, and community-based resources), can be effective in fighting addiction.
Cost of Methadone Treatment
While methadone treatments are never free, they are an affordable option for those seeking care. The range of methadone treatment costs varies by methadone clinic, and may be covered by private and public insurance, as well as Medicaid.
Recovery Centers of America offers methadone treatment that is covered by most insurance providers, and Medicaid.
Methadone can become an abused substance, which is why it should only be administered once a day at a methadone clinic or methadone treatment center by a medically trained professional who can track usage and provide proper dosing instructions.
Methadone maintenance treatment also uses staff to manage medication administration by allowing no opportunities to catch missed doses, which can sometimes be a sign of relapse. In outpatient care at a methadone clinic, patients with missed doses (whether intentional or accidental) will have their dosages evaluated and changed if needed by the medical staff.
Methadone Treatment Precautions
Methadone dosages need to be slowly built up over time to avoid the risk of overdosing. Since Methadone is an opiate, addiction to methadone can be life-threatening as well , and if abused it may lead to tremors, fatigue, coma, and even death.
Like any drug, methadone does have side effects, which can include nausea, constipation, itchy skin, forgetfulness, and dizziness.
Methadone and Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can receive methadone treatments. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that methadone maintenance programs combined with prenatal care is a safe and effective treatment option when under the supervision of medical professionals at methadone clinics or methadone treatment centers. Infants exposed to methadone during pregnancy typically require treatment for withdrawal symptoms.
When it comes to women who are breastfeeding while undergoing methadone treatment, studies have found that the exposure of infants to methadone through their mothers’ breast milk is minimal and the benefits outweigh the risks for mother and baby.
prescription painkiller deaths were from methadone in 2009
For decades, methadone has been used safely and effectively to treat drug addiction. As the opioid crisis in the U.S. has risen, methadone has also been prescribed as a painkiller because it is a generic drug that can provide long-lasting pain relief. The problem? As methadone’s use for pain has increased, so has abuse and the number of overdoses. More than 30% of prescription painkiller deaths involve methadone. This is surprising, because only 2% of painkiller prescriptions are for the drug. Also, 6 times as many people died of methadone overdoses in 2009 than a decade before.
When not prescribed correctly, methadone’s risks include:
- The difference between appropriate prescribed doses and dangerous doses of methadone is small
- Methadone has special risks as a painkiller. Just taking it more than 3-times a day can cause the drug to build up in a person’s body. This can lead to dangerously slowed breathing
- Methadone can seriously disrupt the heart’s rhythm
- Methadone can be particularly risky when used with tranquilizers or other prescription painkillers.
In one study, 4 in 10 overdose deaths involving single-prescription painkillers involved methadone. This number is twice as many as any other prescription painkiller.
Even though methadone is used in recovery from opioid addiction, if administered improperly it too can become addictive. It’s important to remember if you’re prescribed methadone to only use it as directed by a healthcare provider. As with all addictions, the patient will need to detox from methadone.
RCA’s clinical team is thoroughly trained to ensure proper methadone dosing when used as medically assisted treatment. If detoxing from methadone, there are other drugs that can be used such as bupenorphine.
RCA believes in an individualized approach to treatment – our treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Our clinical staff will work with you to come up with your own individual treatment plan.
Recovery from Methadone
Symptoms of methadone withdrawal may begin 24 to 36 hours after stopping the drug. The detox process should always be under the care of a medical professional. Methadone withdrawal may last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks and up to 6 months.
A person can expect to feel these symptoms in the first 30 hours when they first stop taking methadone: tiredness, anxiety, restlessness, sweating, watery eyes, runny nose, and trouble sleeping.
Withdrawal symptoms may feel like the flu and can remain severe for several days. Certain symptoms may be worse after 3 days. These include muscle aches and pains, goosebumps, severe nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, depression, and drug cravings. These symptoms may be bad during the first week and some symptoms may last longer.
Recovery Centers of America: Safety Standards for Methadone Treatment
Recovery Centers of America adheres to all standards and regulations to ensure patients get the exact methadone dosage they need in the time they need it in order to achieve their goals of long-term sobriety.
Recovery Centers of America Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Clinic Locations
To learn about RCA’s Suboxone and Methadone treatment facilities, click one of the links below. Currently, we have two locations in New Jersey: Trenton Healthcare Clinic in Trenton and Bravo Medical in Somerdale (not far from Camden). New MAT clinic locations coming soon.
New Jersey MAT Clinic Locations
Methadone and Suboxone in Trenton
Methadone and Suboxone in Somerdale (10 miles from Camden)
Pennsylvania MAT Clinic Locations
Methadone and Suboxone in Lansdowne
Click here to see all Recovery Centers of America locations (including MAT, inpatient and outpatient) on a map.