Methadone Clinic: How Can it Help Fight Heroin Addiction?

Last Updated: June 24, 2020

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

A methadone clinic is a treatment facility. It uses Methadone as a part of medication-assisted treatment program for heroin addiction.
Methadone is an FDA-approved medication used in patients with heroin or opioid addiction. They don’t recommend its use in patients younger than 16 years. A person can take it for both detox and maintenance therapy of heroin or opioid addiction.
The main aim behind using Methadone to treat heroin addiction is to keep the heroin withdrawal symptoms in check. At the same time, they slowly lower the dosage.
In addition, these treatment centers also provide psychological counseling and other auxiliary services. Furthermore, these patients will get a calculated daily dose of Methadone.

Types of Services Methadone Clinics Provide

  • Inpatient services: One can get the detox program in an inpatient setting.
  • Outpatient services: If a person is looking for the maintenance therapy of heroin addiction, one can get it in an outpatient setting.

Based on the type of ownership, there are basically two types of Methadone clinic

  • Private clinic: The patients in private Methadone clinics will pay for the treatment themselves (out-of-pocket payment) or through some private insurance.
  • Government- or state- run clinics: Government agencies provide the fund necessary to run such methadone clinics.

Laws And Regulations That Monitor Operation Of Methadone Clinic

All methadone treatment centers should comply with the Federal Methadone Regulations. In addition, state laws can make certain changes in the admission criteria. These include staffing ratios, take-home policies, dosing limits, treatment duration, and patient rights. Understandably, the regulations for running a Methadone clinic in state can vary depending on which state one lives.

Methadone Clinic Working Principles

A Methadone clinic provides a calculated daily dose of methadone to the heroin-addicted patients. The idea behind this therapy is to replace the heroine with something less harmful. They do this slowly controlling every step of the way. This way, the patient may not experience the shock of withdrawal.
This approach to treating heroin addiction works in two ways:

  • First, it reduces or helps to prevent the severity of heroin or opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Second, it saves patients from risky behavior to obtain the drug. Such behaviors could be sharing needles or illegal criminal activities.

Period Of Staying At Methadone Clinics

The duration of stay at the Methadone clinic can vary depending on the severity and type of the substance abuse. However, one should stay at the clinic for a minimum of 12-months  to get the best results.
Since the patients may have other co-occurring mental disorders or social problems, it could take longer than a year.

Benefits Of Staying At The Methadone Clinic

Treatments at a Methadone clinic are more effective if the addiction doesn’t respond well to other treatments. Additionally, other benefits may include:

  • Lower drug use and criminal activity
  • Lower number of drug-associated criminal behaviors and HIV infections
  • Better family relationships
  • Higher employment rate

Potential Disadvantages of Methadone Treatment

methadoneThe opioid addiction treatment is like choosing the lesser of two evils. In essence, an individual has to take Methadone to prevent or reduce the number of withdrawal symptoms from heroin addiction.
Because Methadone is itself an opioid, using it may get one addicted. Nonetheless, the benefits of joining a Methadone clinic usually outweigh the risks.

Things To Know Before Joining A Methadone Clinic

Not all opioid addicts are eligible to join a Methadone clinic. It is because they don’t recommend using Methadone when a person has certain medical or physical conditions. They include:

  • Taking other drugs like sleeping pills, antidepressants or medications to treat anxiety at the same time
  • Breathing disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma
  • Head injury in the past
  • During or shortly before a pregnancy
  • Having low blood pressure

In addition, they only recommend Methadone treatment for patients who have been abusing opioid drugs for at least a year. They include using 135mg of Oxycodone, 90mg of Oxymorphone, 6 bags of 25% pure heroin and 200mg of Hydrocodone.

In conclusion, treatment at a Methadone clinic is an approved way to manage opioid addiction. The risks from methadone treatment, methadone addiction being the most prominent one, are lower than its benefits.
To make the overall treatment more effective and longer-lasting, Methadone clinics have facilities for other treatments. They include counseling, rehabilitation techniques, psychiatric consultation, cognitive behavioral therapy and other alternative treatments.
One can get the best treatment for opioid addictions in a Methadone clinic offering both Methadone and supportive treatments.

Page Sources

  1. Luty J., O'Gara C., Sessay M. Is methadone too dangerous for opiate addiction?. The BMJ. 2005; 331(7529):1352–1353. doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7529.1352.
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Research. Methadone. 2016.

Published on: March 24th, 2017

Updated on: June 24th, 2020

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


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