Methadone Clinics: What are they?

Methadone Clinics Guide

You have probably heard the term methadone clinic and maybe wondered what it was all about. You may have an inkling that it is to help people get off or stay off drugs, but that’s about it. This methadone clinic’s guide will tell you what methadone is, what it does, how it is helpful, and how to access it. First, here’s a short discussion about drug and alcohol abuse.

Drug and Alcohol Use

The thing to understand about drug and alcohol abuse is that there is a solution, and there is help and support available. Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol really want to be rid of that burden, but they might feel like it’s a hopeless situation. However, the situation is never hopeless. Yes, addictions are strong and can draw a person back into using and displaying behavior they want to get rid of, but the position is never hopeless. Breaking this addiction can rarely be done without help and support. It involves not only abstinence from the drug or alcohol but also a change in behavior.

Addictions tend to rule the lives of the user as well as their family. It’s only when the user decides enough is enough that they are able and ready to seek help and follow through. It’s also important to choose a good rehab program to break addictions and change behavior. But before you or your loved one can enter a rehab program, they must detox from the drug. This should be done under medical supervision. Methadone is helpful for detoxing and for symptom maintenance during opioid drug withdrawal.

Drug Overdose

There is medication available for a possible overdose of an opioid drug. It can be administered by medical professionals, including EMTs. The drug is naloxone, and it can reverse an opioid overdose by blocking opioid receptor sites. If the person is not overdosing, the medication will have no effect on them.

Naloxone is also known by the brand name Narcan. It can be administered by injection or nasal spray. Naloxone is also available to schools, libraries, churches, and homeless programs in the state of California. Search your state to find out if it has a similar program.

Not all drug overdoses are intentional, but they are serious and require immediate medical attention. Here are some signs of an opioid drug overdose:

• Pupils that look like pinpoints
• A loss of consciousness, falling asleep, and a lack of alertness
• Shallow breathing that is also slow

If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing a drug overdose, call 911 immediately. If you have naloxone on hand, administer it right away. While you wait for the EMTs, lay on your side or help your loved one to lay on their side, and try to remain calm. If you have oxygen, use it.

Withdrawal From Drugs or Alcohol

Withdrawing from drugs or alcohol can be a difficult process, but there are medications such as naloxone and methadone to ease the withdrawal symptoms and help you through the maintenance period. There are health professionals who will help you through the entire process and support you as you change decisions and paths in your life.

What happens during withdrawal from drugs or alcohol? If you’ve been taking an opioid drug for a long period of time, your body has grown accustomed to its presence. An abrupt stop can cause the brain chemicals to fluctuate wildly, which can cause you to feel nauseous, achy, anxious, or irritable, or it could make you sweat or have goosebumps or diarrhea.

How long these symptoms last can vary from a few days to a few weeks. The results depend on how long you’ve used the substance, how much you used on a regular basis, and other health conditions you may have. Going through this withdrawal without medical help can be dangerous and life-threatening. It’s possible to experience seizures or delirium with alcohol withdrawal.

There is no bravery in deciding to quit taking drugs on your own without help. The most successful detox is done under the supervision of medical personnel and then continued with support from a drug treatment program.

How to Get Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

It’s never been easier to get help for addiction. Help is just a phone call away. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA as it’s commonly known, has a 24/7/365 helpline. It’s free, can provide answers to all your questions, and can help you connect with a local resource to safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol. Call 1-800-662-4357 for immediate help and information. Otherwise, if you know of a methadone clinic or treatment center, or if you have a doctor you trust, talk to them. The professional staff will be glad to help.

You can also ask family or friends to assist you in finding help for your addiction. Many of them would most likely be happy to do this for you. The important thing is to take that first step. No one will judge you for the place you’re in. Treatment providers are available to help, and some members of staff may very well have been where you are at one time in their own lives. Don’t let fear keep you from seeking answers.

What Is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is useful in breaking addiction cycles and helping those who are addicted to opioid narcotics. It is the most widely used drug in the practice of narcotic replacement therapy (NRT).

Methadone is useful in detoxifying the body of an opioid drug by suppressing withdrawal symptoms on a short-term basis, which is usually 21 days but can also last up to 180 days. It is administered in decreasing dosages to ease the distress of detoxification, both physical and psychological. This must be done under the supervision of a doctor. There is another drug approved by the FDA for narcotic replacement therapy called buprenorphine, and it has also proven effective in aiding narcotic addictions.

How a Methadone Clinic Works

Methadone clinics exist to provide treatment and ongoing support to their clients as they receive their daily doses of methadone. Anyone is welcome to walk in and ask for information or treatment. If they ask for treatment, they will be given an examination, be interviewed, and receive an assessment that addresses their willingness to accept treatment. In the next few visits, the clinic will obtain information about the client’s drug use that will determine which treatment option is best for them. Clients are subject to random drug tests and agree to take them when they enter the methadone clinic.

In general, the client will have been addicted to opioids for a minimum of a year, but that seems flexible, especially in the case of pregnant women or prisoners. They will also receive a medical assessment to determine whether taking methadone will be helpful to them. The client agrees not to use other drugs during their treatment with methadone, but that stipulation can be flexible. Clients come every day to receive their dose of methadone.

There is no standard dose that fits everyone. Doses can be adjusted daily, depending on how long the client has been taking methadone and the symptoms of withdrawal that are present. During the first three to seven days, dosing will most likely increase every day. Doses are dependent on the client’s honesty about how they feel, what they’re going through when they leave the clinic for the day, and if they’ve taken any other drugs in an attempt to feel better sooner. Many clients feel the need to hide this information for fear of being ejected from the clinic, but that removal is not likely; providers understand human frailty.

Addiction vs. Dependence

There are side effects to using methadone, such as dependence, but these symptoms are quite different than the results of opioid addiction. Addictions control a person’s behaviors, and the use of the drug continues, even in the midst of negative consequences. Dependence is just the body’s need for this medication in order to function properly. It can be compared to people who take medication for high blood pressure. They have a dependence on that medication for their good health, and to suggest not taking it due to dependence would be dangerous to that person’s health.

There are no known serious side effects to taking methadone, even for a long period of time, aside from the physical dependency discussed above. These medications work because they are longer-lasting than illegal street drugs that only lasting a little while before the user needs more.

If you or someone in your life is battling an opioid addiction, there is help available for you. Call a local helpline or a methadone clinic today and just ask questions. They will be happy to answer your questions and provide encouragement. If you can’t find anything local, call the national hotline.

There is life outside of addiction, and today could be a turning point in your life or in the life of someone you love. The journey may not be easy, but it is worthwhile. There are medical professionals who are waiting to help you over this hard time in your life. They will welcome you and do everything they can to help you find that new life. Remember that there is always hope.

Sponsored Treatment Center:

Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

About Us

Addiction Experts is a group of addiction and behavioral health specialists dedicated to providing helpful, and free, addiction treatment guides. Millions of people have utilized our resources and suggestions for substance use disorders, mental health treatment, and process addiction treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you may have! 

Recent Posts:

Get Started on the Road to Recovery