If your loved one is addicted to opiates such as heroin or prescription pain medication, he or she may be considering going into a Methadone program for treatment. Approximately 1 million US residents are addicted to opiates, according to the Center For Disease Control. Since the 1960s, Methadone programs have been used to help addicts by replacing the illegal drugs and over-used prescriptions with medically regulated doses of Methadone. Programs nationwide share the following similarities.
Individual Evaluations: Regardless of which program your loved one signs up for, he or she will be individually evaluated. Medical staff members will determine what dose should be used to stop withdrawal, but not be so much that it creates a high. It may take some time to get the dose adjusted correctly, but once it is done, the person getting treatment should feel functional in life without getting any buzz from the medication. He or she will be given a medical examination and probably be tested for things like HIV and Hepatitis C as part of the evaluation process.
Public or Private: A decision will have to be made about whether to attend a public or private clinic. In some cases, he or she will have to choose whichever type happens to be in the local area as there may not be a lot of clinics available. Public clinics are significantly less expensive than private ones, however, because of the reduced cost, there is typically a waiting list to get accepted. The four states with the most Methadone treatment centers are Maryland, California, New York and New Jersey. All Methadone clinics have to follow strict federal regulations about how they are operated.
Take Home Medication: Initially, your loved one will have to report in person each day to get a daily dose of Methadone. Once the staff is comfortable that your loved one is obeying program rules, attending 12-step or other rehab meetings, and not showing up with other drugs in the system, they will allow take home medication. Typically, it starts with reducing in-person visits to every other day, and taking a dose home for the in-between days. If this is successful, your loved one may eventually get to bring home weekend doses. Some clinics even allow those who have been doing well for a long time to bring home a seven-day supply and return the following week to get another seven-day supply.
Odds and Ends: Methadone is not a short-term program. Clients who stay with it are typically in the program for months or even years. How long your loved one stays on Methadone will be left up to him or her to decide. Just stopping it without tapering down will cause withdrawal. Most clinics require clients to have tried and failed at other rehabilitation methods before being allowed to join a Methadone program. Because Methadone is a narcotic, there are people who try to get into the program as a way to get high. Your loved one will have to prove that he or she has an opiate addiction by having at least trace amounts of opiates show up in a urine sample during the first visit.