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What is a methadone clinic?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on June 16, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com
  • A methadone clinic is a SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment program.
  • There are more than 1,250 SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment programs across the U.S.
  • Methadone clinics provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to assist people on the road to recovery from opioid addiction.
  • Methadone clinics are the only place in the United States authorized to prescribe methadone for opioid addiction.
  • Methadone clinics are not free; however, public methadone clinics are usually more affordable.

More than 2 million people in the U.S. abuse opioids and more than 90 Americans die of an opioid overdose every day.

Methadone is a long-acting synthetic opioid that may be used to treat opioid addiction and chronic pain. It helps reduce withdrawal symptoms for people who have become addicted to narcotics, such as heroin, and satisfies cravings without producing a high. It was discovered in Germany in 1937 and by the 1960s it was being used to treat heroin dependency in the U.S.

Methadone is classified as a Schedule II controlled drug and according to US law, it can only be obtained through a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)-certified opioid treatment program that is registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These programs may also be called methadone clinics.

Methadone clinics are medical facilities where staff members are trained specifically in the prescribing and administration of methadone. They also provide comprehensive care including counseling services and help people with rehabilitation and getting on the road to recovery. However, methadone may not be the appropriate choice for everybody and other types of addiction recovery treatments, such as Suboxone, are available that can be prescribed more freely.

There are more than 1,250 opioid treatment programs across the United States that provide services to approximately 350,000 people. More than half of those require maintenance and detoxification treatment.

  • Daily dispensing of methadone is often undertaken, at least initially.
  • For some people, off-site dispensing can be arranged.
  • Some methadone clinics see thousands of people a day.

Methadone clinics provide a range of services, such as:

  • Helping people to reduce or eliminate drug use or prevent it from happening in the first place
  • Advice and preventative measures to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV
  • Counseling
  • Improving the well being and quality of life of people in treatment and preventing criminal activity.

Are methadone clinics free?

There is usually a cost associated with methadone clinics.

There are two types of methadone clinics – public and private.

Although public clinics are not free, they are more affordable than private clinics; however, they usually have long waiting lists and can be overcrowded.

Private clinics cost more, but they usually have no wait lists and provide a clean and welcoming atmosphere. Some may cater to specific demographics, genders, or religion.

Most offer payment plans and other payment options for those without health insurance coverage or state or federal coverage through programs such as Medicaid.

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