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What Happens at a Methadone Clinic?

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  • Written By: K. K. Lowen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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The fundamental purpose of a methadone clinic is to dispense medication, but the facilities usually provide other services as well. Beyond distributing methadone to verified patients with opiate addictions, the clinics often provide other forms of treatment to aid in the healing process. A methadone clinic is highly regulated and under heavy scrutiny from authorities in most countries.

Methadone, a synthetic opioid, helps patients with addictions to natural opioids such as heroin or morphine. The drug has two general uses. Low dosages may assist in the management of withdrawal symptoms, as methadone has pain-relieving effects. High doses of methadone may also obstruct the intended effects of heroin and other opiates, allowing drug users to distance themselves from the feelings associated with their addictions.

Clinics that dispense methadone almost always will have a physician present. The doctors perform pre-treatment examinations to decide if a person is healthy enough to enter into the program and discover pre-existing conditions that could hinder the patient's success. Monitoring changes in a patient’s physical and mental condition is another important task allotted to the clinic’s physician.

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Physicians or other trained professionals must supervise the administration of medicines. Requiring new patients to receive and use their methadone doses at the clinic is typical. One reason for the requirement is to deter methadone abuse, a situation in which patients hoard the doses for later use or sell the drug on the streets. If a person shows progress in treatment over an extended period of time, the individual may continue the methadone maintenance program off-site, receiving an allotment of the medication to use outside the clinic.

Many methadone clinics offer counseling in conjunction with the drug replacement therapy. Receiving individual or group therapy is frequently a legal requirement for anyone participating in a methadone treatment program. By combining treatment methods, a methadone clinic sometimes can obtain higher success rates.

Doctors commonly prescribe methadone for pain management as well as addiction, but methadone clinics generally do not dispense the drug for its pain-management characteristics. Similarly, those who suffer from methadone addiction and wish to undergo detoxification typically do not receive care at a methadone clinic. Methadone addicts usually enter inpatient rehabilitation at a hospital or a mental health center.

Methadone clinics exist all over the world, and each country may have their own specific laws and regulations regarding the access and distribution of methadone. In many countries, a methadone clinic generally is located in or runs in affiliation with a hospital, whereas pharmacies distribute the drug in other countries. Methadone programs throughout the world often receive subsidization from the governments of their respective nations. In the United States and other countries, methadone clinics may be publicly or privately owned.

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ddljohn
Post 3

@ysmina-- I'm not an expert on this topic. But if you are a family member, I'm sure you can speak to her doctor at the clinic and voice your concerns about off site treatment. Friends and family have insight about how someone with a history of addiction may act in various situations. So if you are concerned, then it may be best to finish the treatment at the clinic. But you need to discuss this with the patient and the doctor.

I personally don't think that we can force anyone to overcome their addiction. They have to want to achieve it and if they have made up their mind, they'll do their best to succeed. It's important for us to support them in this process and help them when they are weak or confused. In this sense, being at a clinic or living with family that can keep an eye on us is a great thing.

ysmina
Post 2

@ddljohn-- So you don't think it's a problem for people to be treated off-site?

Someone I know is at a methadone clinic too and wants to be treated off site when possible. I don't think it's a good idea. I'm afraid that she'll fall back into bad habits. I want her to stay at the clinic where she is closely supervised.

ddljohn
Post 1

My friend was i a methadone clinic. He is back home now but still continuing the program. He visits the clinic periodically for check-ups and when he needs to be given more medication. It seems to be working well for him. He is winning the battle against addiction. He says that it will also be a small challenge to withdraw from the methadone when his treatment is over. But since he has come so far, I'm sure he will manage that also.

Methadone is definitely an addictive drug but sometimes, it's required to help people get off of more serious addictions. It's great that there are methadone clinics to guide and supervise patients through this process. I'm sure the clinic will also help my friend when it's time to quit the methadone and finally live without any drugs whatsoever.

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