What Is Methadone?
Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is commonly used for the treatment of opioid addiction and for pain management. It’s an opioid agonist, meaning it lessens withdrawal symptoms and cravings by acting on the brain’s opioid receptors.
Methadone maintenance treatment was first approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder in the 1960s, with the first methadone clinic opening in September 1969. Today, an estimated 115,000 people receive methadone treatment each year.
However, methadone has several drawbacks. For one, it carries a significant potential for abuse and even overdose. This means that patients could potentially be trading one dangerous addiction for another. There are over a thousand methadone overdoses each year.
It also has various side effects. Methadone side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Urinary retention
- Sexual dysfunction
- Respiratory depression
- Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
As a result, methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance and treatment is done in closed settings. It must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and is typically dispensed through a methadone clinic for addiction treatment. Until recently, patients have had to visit these clinics everyday – they couldn’t take any of the drug home.
While regulations have loosened in recent years, obtaining methadone remains inconvenient for many people and inhibits them from obtaining treatment. In fact, most opioid-addicted individuals are not in any kind of treatment program.
Rather than a methadone clinic, they obtain their methadone from street dealers. It’s worth noting that the data shows these individuals usually use methadone as intended – for withdrawal and craving management. Cases of illicit methadone being injected (abuse) are rare.
What Is a Methadone Clinic?
A methadone clinic, also known as a substance abuse treatment clinic, is a place where people go to receive treatment for opioid addiction. The specific type of treatment they receive is known as medication-assisted treatment or MAT.
These clinics often provide comprehensive treatment, including the medication aspect, counseling, and other support services.
Here’s how it works:
- Upon entry into the program, patients undergo a thorough medical and substance use assessment.
- Patients receive a daily dose of methadone to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for other opioids.
- Regular meetings with healthcare providers and counselors to monitor progress, adjust dosages, and address additional needs.
- Urine tests or other screenings to monitor abstinence from illicit drug use.
- Access to additional services such as support groups, education about substance use disorders, and assistance with social services.
Treatment at a methadone clinic is typically overseen by a team of doctors, nurses, and counselors. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides guidelines and accreditation for these clinics in the U.S.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment in a methadone clinic should be for a minimum of 12 months.
Methadone vs Suboxone
Suboxone is a special 4:1 formulation of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. This means it mimics the effects of opioids, but they’re much weaker – and also weaker than methadone.
Another advantage it has over methadone is it has a “ceiling effect,” meaning higher doses will not lead to greater euphoric effects, This means it has a lower chance of abuse or overdose. Buprenorphine also has fewer side effects.
Buprenorphine is also generally easier to obtain than methadone. It can be prescribed in a doctor’s office and used at home. This is more convenient than going daily to a methadone clinic.
However, it still has some abuse potential, which is where the naloxone component of Suboxone comes in. Naloxone is best known under the brand name Narcan. It’s designed to rapidly induce opioid withdrawal when injected – but not if it is taken sublingually (under the tongue), which is how Suboxone is taken.
What this means is Suboxone is effectively impossible to abuse.
Is a Methadone Clinic the Same Thing as a Treatment Center?
Methadone clinics and treatment centers both play crucial roles in addressing substance use disorders, but they have distinct functions and offerings.
Both are regulated institutions intended to provide addiction treatment. Both types of facilities often provide counseling, behavioral therapy, support groups, and MAT as part of their treatment programs. However, a methadone clinic specifically focuses on providing methadone as a form of MAT for opioid addiction.
By contrast, a treatment center will offer a broader range of services and treatments for various substance use disorders, not limited to opioid addiction. They may provide inpatient or outpatient services, detoxification, therapy, and a wider array of MAT options.
Also, treatment at an addiction center can be much shorter – between 30 to 90 days. By contrast, a methadone clinic treatment program is generally 12 months.
We are open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.
Opioid Addiction Treatment at South Coast Behavioral Health
If you or a loved one are seeking opioid addiction treatment, South Coast Behavioral Health is here to help. The first step in treating addiction is a medical detox. This means using drugs to manage withdrawal symptoms.
Our medical detox program in California is staffed by caring and compassionate professionals who can provide you with medications to manage your withdrawal symptoms.
At South Coast, we take pride in offering care that is closely tailored to specific issues. To that end, we offer gender-specific detox programs, with medical detox for men in Irvine, CA, and medical detox for women in Huntington Beach, CA.
After detoxing, proper treatment can begin.
Treatment for substance abuse takes place along an entire spectrum of care. Along that entire spectrum are various behavioral therapies, support groups, and the use of medically-assisted treatment (MAT).
These levels of treatment are, in order, as follows:
Residential Treatment in California
After completing medical detox, you’ll receive inpatient treatment in Orange County California. There, you’ll receive medically-assisted treatment and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling.
We also offer residential treatment facilities in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Huntington Beach for those who desire gender-specific treatment. There, patients get round-the-clock medical attention and monitoring while living at the institution full-time.
In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.
Partial Hospitalization in California
Most clients start substance abuse treatment with South Coast in our residential treatment program. After completing that, many desire something that still provides structure and support, but with extra space and time to oneself. For that, we offer Partial Hospitalization in Newport Beach.
A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, partial hospitalization offers a good balance for those looking to ease back into normal life. Clients can receive care five to seven days a week for several hours each day, returning to their homes in the evening.
This way, they can recover without putting their daily lives completely on hold, receiving intense therapeutic interventions like group and individual therapy, skill development, and medication management as necessary.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment in California
For those leaving inpatient residential treatment or partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are yet another gradual step forward on the road to recovery.
With a focus on group therapy, individual counseling, and education, clients undergoing Intensive Outpatient Treatment in Newport Beach can meet three to five days a week. Each session lasts three hours.
This level of care requires the least amount of attendance at a facility.
If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction but wonder how long addiction treatment takes or have other questions, call us at 866-881-1184 or contact us here. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to help give you an idea of what to expect from your addiction recovery timeline, verify your insurance, and assist with any other questions you may have.