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Updated on November 23, 2022

How to Get Into a Methadone Clinic

What is a Methadone Clinic?

Methadone clinics are also known as substance use disorder services clinics. They dispense medications to people addicted to opioids.

Medication assistance therapy helps people addicted to opioids manage and recover from their addiction with fewer risks. 

What is Methadone?

Methadone is one of the most common medications provided by these clinics. It is a schedule II long-lasting opioid. It can:

  • Delay and/or ease painful withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduce the risk of overdose
  • Allow time for detoxification from heroin and other short-acting opioids
  • Decrease the risk of relapse during the detoxification phase

It’s long-lasting and stays active in the body for 24 to 36 hours. While active, it blocks the euphoria felt when taking other opioids.

In the United States, methadone is only available under a physician’s supervision. It must be dispensed through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)-certified and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-registered treatment program. 

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How Do Methadone Clinics Work 

Methadone clinics are a resource for people recovering from opioid addiction. They provide a variety of treatments in addition to methadone and other medication-assisted treatments (MAT).

Initially, methadone treatment centers evaluate you and determine where you are in the recovery process. Methadone is addictive, so the clinic staff must closely monitor you during the dispensing process.

Methadone offers a safe opioid withdrawal and recovery option. However, dosing isn’t risk-free. Before dispensing this type of treatment, clinic staff must evaluate someone’s medical and drug-use history.

How to Qualify for a Methadone Clinic

Methadone programs must follow specific treatment guidelines. Medical professionals look closely at a person’s past use of drugs and whether they’ve attempted and failed at recovery before.

To determine if a person qualifies for methadone treatment, an applicant must:

  • Undergo blood and urine samples for drug testing
  • Provide information on their history of drug abuse
  • Undergo a physical and mental health exam
  • Provide information concerning their previous or existing mental health issues

Additionally, some programs have an age requirement. If you're a minor, you can be eligible for a methadone clinic with written consent of a parent or guardian.

Doctors also gauge a person’s addiction severity based on several factors, including:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Inability to control the amount of opioids used (overdose risk)
  • Increasing tolerance level
  • Failed attempts to stop using
  • Investing time and money in getting the drug regardless of negative consequences
  • Loss of interest in work, recreation, and social activities
  • What family members have to say about the patient’s substance use

Federal Regulations for a Methadone Clinic

According to federal regulations, for a clinic to meet eligibility requirements, it must:

  • Administer complete physical examinations by a doctor or healthcare professional to each patient
  • Offer services for pregnant patients
  • Provide an initial assessment that includes a treatment plan and periodic assessments throughout treatment
  • Provide substance use counseling
  • Provide social and psychological assessments
  • Administer at least eight random drug tests per year

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How Long Does it Take to Get into a Methadone Clinic?

The length of time it takes to get into a methadone clinic varies based on the severity of addiction and the programs in a geographical region. Some people are admitted immediately to a program, while others must wait days or weeks for admittance.

Do Methadone Clinics Accept Insurance? 

Methadone clinics do accept insurance. This is so that treatment is accessible to more people.

Finding the right methadone clinic to help you with addiction should not be frustrating or difficult.

Look for a clinic that:

  • Is near your home and/or loved ones
  • Has plenty of experience
  • Is an established facility with a good reputation
  • Offers customizable treatment plans that fit your needs
  • Accepts Medicaid or any insurance you have or is willing to work with you regarding your financial situation 

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The best treatment is one that works for YOU. An addiction specialist can answer your questions and guide you through your options. Get the help YOU need today.

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What to Expect at a Methadone Clinic 

There are three things you can expect when visiting a methadone clinic, regardless of the specific clinic, including:

Common Side Effects of Methadone

Methadone is a safer option than other opioids, but it’s still a drug, so side effects occur. The most common side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Retention of urine
  • Insomnia

Some patients also experience paranoia, anxiety, and delusions.

In some cases, side effects are severe and include:

  • Restlessness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat

Severe side effects might interfere with methadone’s effectiveness. It’s important to share with your doctor if you experience any of these side effects.

Commonly Treated Opioid Addictions 

The use of methadone to treat opioid addiction has increased in popularity in recent years. It’s effective for treating a variety of common opioid addictions, including:

Codeine

Codeine is the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough syrups.

It’s dangerous and addictive when misused because the liver converts it to morphine. The most common way of abusing codeine is mixing it with Sprite to make it “lean.”

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

This is one of the most commonly involved drugs in overdoses in the early 2000-teens. Many people still struggle with addiction.

Hydrocodone is a prescription medication, which leads some users to assume it isn’t addictive or dangerous.

Morphine

Morphine is difficult to secure, so addiction to the drug is less common. In some cases, people prescribed morphine for pain relief develop an addiction and must transfer to using more readily available drugs to satisfy their craving once their doctor refuses them morphine.

This is the case with many opioid addictions. What begins as doctor-supervised use spirals out of control and develops into an addiction.

Oxymorphone (Opana)

Oxymorphone is a schedule II analgesic. Addiction rates increased when the drug was approved in tablet form.

Heroin

Heroin is one of the most addictive and deadliest drugs in existence.

The vast majority of heroin addictions are linked to prescription opioid use. Heroin use quickly leads to physical deterioration, health problems, and life-altering addictions. Detoxification and withdrawal symptoms are severe and potentially dangerous. 

Types of Treatment Methadone Clinics Provide

Most people can expect to use methadone with other therapies while visiting a clinic.

The three most common treatment options used in conjunction with medication-assisted therapy include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps addicted people change their behaviors and develop healthy coping skills.
  • Medical detox/supervision: The withdrawal process can be intense and potentially dangerous and sometimes requires medical supervision.
  • Group therapy and counseling services: Talking about addiction-related issues with peers helps you feel understood and not alone.

How Long is Treatment? 

The length of time required for methadone treatment varies from person to person. The methadone delivery method also affects the length of treatment and recovery.

Methadone delivered subcutaneously begins working within 30 to 60 minutes. The same timeframe applies to oral administration. In both cases, the effects of methadone last up to 48 hours.

The length of time a phase of methadone treatment lasts varies based on:

  • A person’s withdrawal symptoms
  • Frequency of opioid use
  • Length of time they used opioids

When is Methadone Treatment the Wrong Choice?

Methadone is an effective addiction recovery treatment for most people addicted to opioids. However, like all medical treatment services, it's not always the best choice for everyone. 

If you’ve tried methadone in the past and it worsened your addiction or had severe side effects, you and your doctor should discuss alternate addiction treatments.

Some of the most beneficial things to incorporate into your recovery include:

  • Establishing a nutritious diet
  • Exercising
  • Getting sufficient sleep
  • Staying busy
  • Working on personal relationships
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Identify your drug-use triggers
  • Building a solid support network
  • Compile an “emergency contact” list of people to contact when cravings occur

How Much Does an Opioid Rehab Clinic Cost?

The cost of treatment from an opioid rehab clinic varies based on various factors. The US Department of Defense estimates the average cost of methadone treatment to be $126 per day to $6552 per year.

This is somewhat more expensive than the cost of buprenorphine treatment and significantly less than naltrexone treatment.

Direct and Indirect Costs of Addiction

Addiction treatment with methadone is more expensive than treating other medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease. However, this only takes into account the direct cost of addiction. 

Indirect costs associated with addiction include secondary costs, such as criminal justice expenses and treatment of:

  • Infants born to addicted mothers
  • Transmission of infectious diseases related to drug use
  • Overdose
  • Injuries related to drug use

Some estimates show the cost of dealing with opioid addiction and overdose to be as much as $80 billion per year. Only a small portion (less than $3 billion) is associated with treatment.

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