Tag: methadone

The Truth About Vivitrol

What is Vivitrol? | Lighthouse Recovery Institute

The Truth About Vivitrol

Vivitrol is a prescribed medication used to prevent relapse in opiate addicts. While Vivitrol is typically recommended as part of a more comprehensive program of recovery, there are those who take the drug in hopes of avoiding all forms of supplemental treatment. This drug works to block the effects of opioid painkillers and other narcotics, eliminating the typically evoked feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and euphoria that all too often lead to physical and psychological dependency. Vivitrol is injected into individuals who are struggling with opioid dependency, relieving them from the severe physical cravings that typically lead to relapse. Interestingly enough, Vivitrol has also proven beneficial in reducing cravings in alcoholics. Those who are injected with the drug have experienced a decreased urge to drink, which could potentially lead to a reduction in the frequency and intensity of alcohol consumption. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that Vivitrol injection is not a cure for alcoholism or drug addiction. This, unfortunately, is where most addicts run into major problems.

Vivitrol and Drug Addiction

Many individuals who have suffered extensively from the widespread consequences of substance dependency have greatly benefitted from this ‘miracle shot’. Hundreds of men and women, however, claim that without the help of Vivitrol, they may not have been able to stay clean. And then there are those tried and true AA-goers that shun the drug entirely, sticking firmly to the belief that overcoming addiction is entirely possible with but the assistance of a higher power. The prevalence of the drug and its role in recovery communities throughout the United States has certainly become a hot topic of controversy. Many individuals who remain relatively uneducated on the subject immediately condemn the drug without proper investigation, assuming that it must be something like methadone or Suboxone – which we all know now are not necessarily as miraculous as they were once considered to be.

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The Difference Between Vivitrol and Methadone

Methadone is an opioid itself, as is Suboxone. Addicts can use these ‘maintenance drugs’ to get high, and many become addicted rather rapidly. Vivitrol, on the other hand, dulls the receptors within the brain so that users do not experience frequent or intense cravings – and so that they will not get high even when they attempt to take opioids. Vivitrol cannot be abused, and it is not being sold on the streets or underground. It is administered by a medical professional once a month in a shot form, disallowing addicts from overdoing it or personally grappling with the idea of taking a daily pill or sublingual in order to stay clean. It is crucial to keep in mind the fact that this drug is not intended as a long-term treatment plan. Those who take Vivitrol will only take it temporarily, and are strongly encouraged to begin actively participating in a 12-step program as soon as possible. Addiction recovery is a lifelong process, and while some may benefit from an extra push in the right direction, setting a solid and lasting foundation for sobriety begins with intense therapeutic care and inner healing.

Why are Federal Agencies Officially Recommending Suboxone & Methadone?

The New Standard for Treatment

In a move that’s sure to raise more than a few eyebrows, SAMHSA has officially endorsed medication-assisted therapies (also known as opioid replacement therapies).

substance abuse and mental health servies adminstration

While they’ve long been supporters of buprenorphine (Suboxone and Subutex) and methadone, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently added wording to their grant application that strongly encourages treatment centers to make use of these medicines – or else.

This new language can be found in SAMHSA’s 2016-2017 block grant application. If you’re wondering, like I was at first, just how much this comes out to – it’s a lot. They have awarded, or still will, just shy of $2 billion this year.

That astounding sum of money certainly ups the ante for SAMHSA’s recommendation. It also brings them up to speed with the rest of the federal government and the majority of the medical establishment.

White House drug czar Michael Botticelli – a man in long-term recovery himself – has pushed medication-assisted therapies for years. He even hinted earlier this year that SAMHSA would be updating their guidelines to reflect what federal drug courts have in place (an emphasis on using opioid replacement therapies).

Find out exactly what SAMHSA changed their grant language to below!

A TRULY non-addictive painkiller? Sounds like science-fiction…

What SAMHSA is Saying

While it’s a bit long and wordy, the official language of the 2016-2017 block application grant follows. You can also view it directly on the grant portion of SAMHSA’s site.

There is a voluminous literature on the efficacy of [Food and Drug Administration]-approved medications for the treatment of substance use disorders. However, many treatment programs in the U.S. offer only abstinence-based treatment for these conditions. SAMHSA strongly encourages the states to require that treatment facilities providing clinical care to those with substance use disorders be required to either have the capacity and staff expertise to use MAT or have collaborative relationships with other providers such that these MATs can be accessed as clinically indicated for patient need. Individuals with substance use disorders who have a disorder for which there is an FDA-approved medication treatment should have access to those treatments based upon each individual patient’s needs.

It’s important to note a few things before going on to explore just what this means for the future of the addiction treatment industry.

First, as a senior SAMHSA official pointed out, these are recommendations and nothing more. When a state is awarded a federal grant, it’s still up to them to spend it how they want. If Florida, for example, received a 2016-2017 SAMHSA grant, they would be under no obligation to mandate individual treatment centers make use of buprenorphine.

Still, this change in wording makes it appear that SAMHSA’s going to give preference to states that use opioid replacement therapy.

Second, even if federal block grants aren’t directly tied to states using medication-assisted therapies, some discretionary grants are. According to Anne Herron, the senior SAMHSA official mentioned above, the agency has began to include language in their discretionary grants that makes it mandatory for states to use buprenorphine and methadone.

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Does This Mean Everyone in Rehab is Going to Be on Suboxone?

That’s the question that’s being asked by many in the treatment industry. If a national agency like SAMHSA is increasingly making their grants conditional upon opioid replacement therapies – are federal and state funded rehabs going to medicate all their patients?

That answer isn’t as easy as simply saying yes or no, but the short answer is no.

Just because a treatment center makes use of medication-assisted therapy doesn’t mean they’re going to be pumping all their patients full of Suboxone or methadone. While it’s easy to image that as a worst-case scenario, it just isn’t likely to happen.

these pills arent suboxone or methadone but they look like them

Rather, the federal government’s shift towards embracing “science rather than ideology” signals a few things.

First, buprenorphine, methadone, and the like will largely be used during detox. Second, certain patients will likely remain on them throughout treatment and into their long-term recovery. Still, this is probably only going to happen if the patient meets a number of criteria.

In other words – the government isn’t saying that everyone in recovery should be taking buprenorphine. Far from it. They’re encouraging states and treatment centers to embrace what science has shown for some time – that, in certain cases, medication can have a positive impact on an individual’s recovery.

Sounds good to me. What do you think? Let us know on social media!

Are you sober if you take methadone?

Could This Mobile Methadone Clinic Help Fight Heroin Addiction?

An Innovative Solution to an Old Problem

medication assisted heroin therapy

Anne Arundel County, located just south of Baltimore, is tight in the grip of this country’s heroin epidemic. Consider that there were forty-eight overdose deaths in 2014 alone. Consider that there were 204 heroin related ER visits in 2013 alone.

Consider that Steve Schuh, the County Executive, declared heroin abuse to be a public health emergency this past January. Consider that from January to April of this year, sixteen people have overdosed and died.

Consider that, from a financial standpoint, Anne Arundel has paid over 2.5 million dollars since 2013 for citizens to get rides to methadone clinics. In fact, between now and this time last year, over 23,000 people have already taken these state-funded rides.

This program, helping opioid addicts without personal transportation or access to public transportation, is one way Anne Arundel County has been fighting heroin addiction. Well, thanks to a veteran substance abuse worker, there may be another way!

Enter Ron Grossman, who’s been involved in the mental health and addiction treatment fields for thirty-five years. He has plans for a mobile Suboxone and methadone clinic that would travel around the county. Not only would this save money for the state, but it would connect those that need treatment the most with help.

What’s Grossman’s name for his unique project? A Road Less Traveled. Up to now, it certainly has been. Let’s hope he can change that!

Methadone can save lives…but it has nasty withdrawal symptoms

Mobile Methadone Clinic? Sounds Strange

As heroin has tightened its stranglehold on Maryland, on the whole United States in fact, we’ve seen an uptick in medication-assisted therapy. This is as true in suburban Baltimore as it is in rural Indiana. Still, there remains some skepticism.

Case in point – there was recently a hotly debated fight over opening a methadone clinic in Pasadena, a small town in Anne Arundel County. This fight came on the heels of the County Health Officer, Dr. Jinlene Chan, admitted there was a lack of treatment services in the central and south parts of the county.

With this lack of resources in mind, Grossman and his partners came up with an innovative solution. Thus, A Road Less Traveled was born. What exactly is this program though? How will they make a methadone clinic mobile and, more importantly, will it positively impact Maryland’s fight against heroin?

Well, Grossman has teamed up with Dr. Lee Goodman. Goodman, an Annapolis based addiction professional, has high hopes for their mobile clinic. He’d like to see it treat 300 patients each day.

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Grossman and Goodman plan to accomplish this by making two stops daily, for four hours each time, across the street from participating pharmacies. Patients would come aboard the clinic and be seen by a doctor. They would then walk across the street and fill a prescription for methadone or Suboxone.

To keep patients accountable – after all, heroin addicts are a notoriously unreliable bunch – they would be tested before receiving a renewal on any prescriptions. Patients would also have access to a therapist at A Road Less Traveled, as well as receiving weekly counseling offsite.

So far, A Road Less Traveled is still in the planning stages. Grossman and Goodman are trying to obtain a formal agreement from the county before they begin operation. They’re also hopeful for other state funds available for medication-assisted therapy programs.

The Public Response Hasn’t Been Great

Despite offering a valuable service to an at-need population, A Road Less Traveled has received a less than stellar public reaction. Dr. Chan, the County Health Officer mentioned above, has had perhaps the best response – and hers is still ambiguous.

When asked about Grossman and Goodman’s project, Dr. Chan responded,

“It’s not necessarily a good idea or a bad idea…If it can be executed well and it provides good service for the residents of Anne Arundel County, then I would be a proponent of it” (Capital Gazette).

A Road Less Traveled has faced a similar response from County Executive Steve Schuh. Despite trying to meet with Schuh since he took office in January, Grossman and Goodman have yet to sit down with him. Schuh’s spokesperson did issue a statement that county officials are interested in the idea, but need a “better grasp of the proposal.”

A number of local politicians are also hesitant to the mobile methadone clinic model. Councilman Andrew Pruski offered limited support, saying that A Road Less Traveled was worth looking at. Councilman Derek Fink offered a similar response. He said that while medication-assisted therapy clinics can be beneficial, they shouldn’t impact the quality of life of county residents.

It looks like public officials aren’t flocking to this idea of a mobile methadone clinic. It looks like they’re waiting to see how others respond and whether the public picks up support for the idea. This despite the fact that people are dying in record numbers from heroin and painkiller overdoses.

mobile methadone clinic

Look, I’m not an expert on methadone clinics and medication-assisted therapies. I’m not a doctor or a public health official. I do, however, have firsthand experience with heroin addiction and overdose. I struggled with it for several years before finally getting sober.

In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, anything that has the potential to save lives is a good thing. While more traditional, abstinence based approaches are still the gold standard for addiction treatment – A Road Less Traveled could save lives. What else do you need to know?

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The Ugly Truth about Methadone

What is Methadone?

Of all the drugs out there, street and prescription, none are as misunderstood as methadone. People, even those who’ve had firsthand experience with this synthetic opioid, simply don’t understand what methadone is, how it works, and the inherent dangers it brings with it.

Lighthouse has written about methadone before and we’ll write about it again. We won’t stop until everyone understands the truth about this chemical! What is that truth, you ask? Simple – methadone pills and liquid are dangerous and potentially deadly.

methadone dosage

Methadone dosage varies widely and overdose isn’t uncommon. This is true even for those who’ve been on the drug for quite some time. Speaking of extended periods taking methadone, there’s a little something called methadone maintenance treatment to be addressed. Add into this already complicated equation the varying opinions on whether taking methadone is “allowed” in recovery and, well, you can see why there’s such fierce misunderstanding.

So, with all the above in mind, let’s see if we can’t shed some light on what this opioid really is. First up, let’s look at methadone dosages.

Learn why methadone withdrawal is so much longer than other opioid withdrawal

Methadone Dosage

Methadone pills and liquids come in a ton of different strengths. These can range from five-milligram pills all the way to 100+ milligram syrups. It’s important to remember that someone’s methadone dosage is dependent on why they’re taking the medication in the first place and their body’s reaction.

Some people are prescribed methadone for pain related issues. Despite being thought of only as a form of medication assisted therapy, methadone has a long history of being used to reduce chronic pain.

In this case, an individual’s methadone dosage is usually much lower than if they were taking the drug as a form of addiction treatment. This is because they probably don’t have an opioid tolerance. Over time, doctors will adjust a patient’s methadone dosage depending on their level of pain and how well they tolerate the various side effects.

The other reason methadone is commonly prescribed is to help individual’s addicted to heroin and other opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.). This is also known as methadone maintenance treatment. I’ll explore this in depth below, but first let’s look at dosage.

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Someone’s methadone dosage is, broadly speaking, much higher if they’re on maintenance treatment. This makes sense, as they already have a tolerance to opioids in general. A patient’s methadone dosage while receiving maintenance therapy could be as high as 200 milligrams. However, and here’s where things get controversial, methadone pill overdose is higher in people receiving the drug for maintenance than in those receiving it for chronic pain.

Perhaps this is due to the vastly different ways these populations consume methadone. One takes it to relieve pain, the other takes it so they won’t relapse into active addiction. One has the brain of a “normie,” the other has the brain of an addict.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m demonizing those struggling with addiction. I’m simply suggesting some possible reasons that methadone overdose is higher in those receiving medication-assisted therapies.

Having looked at various methadone dosages, and how those dosages vary depending on the reason someone is prescribed the drug, let’s examine closer what methadone maintenance treatment is all about.

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Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Better minds than mine have discussed the in’s and out’s of methadone maintenance treatment, so we won’t beat a dead horse. What Lighthouse offers is a firsthand examination of what methadone maintenance treatment really looks like. That is to say, can you take methadone and be “truly” sober?

Opinions are all over the board on this question. Some say that taking methadone pills is completely acceptable in recovery. Others argue that taking opioids, methadone or otherwise, is a relapse. Some say that because many doctors offer methadone as a first line treatment for heroin addiction, it’s okay to take and call yourself sober. Others disagree.

Unfortunately there simply isn’t an easy answer. Rather, this is a decision that each individual much reach after consulting with their doctor(s), their sober supports (including their sponsor!), their spiritual or religious advisor, and their loved ones. After talking to all those people, it’s up to the individual to make an informed decision about whether methadone maintenance treatment is right for them.

Through our extensive personal experiences, we’ve seen both the good and the bad. While Lighthouse has no opinion on the effectiveness of methadone maintenance treatment, we do strongly encourage everyone to attempt abstinence-based treatment first.

Are You Sober if You Take Methadone?

What is Methadone?

what is methadone
Chemical structure of methadone via Wikimedia Commons

Methadone is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous drugs available. It’s often described as a drug that, once you start taking it, you’re addicted to for life. It’s described as a devil drug and one that unwittingly hooks opioid users trying to change their lives for the better.

While there are many examples to back this generalization up, it’s worth noting that these media portrayals don’t answer the question “what is methadone and what’s it used for?” And that, my friends, is the question.

There are few drugs as misunderstood as methadone. Some tote it as an effective form of medication assisted therapy. Some call it the ultimate pain management drug. The media’s labeled it as public enemy number one. The only thing these portrayals have in common is that they all contain the word methadone.

So, what is methadone used for? Well, it’s used for all of the above and more. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly this drug is and, more importantly, what it isn’t.

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What is Methadone Used For?

Well, what is methadone used for? More often than not, it’s used as a form of medication assisted therapy (also known as opioid replacement therapy or, more colloquially, methadone maintenance).

To put it another way, methadone is used to help men and women overcome opioid addiction. Here’s where things get controversial. Many believe that taking methadone is nothing more than switching one addiction for another.

This belief is, in part, true. Methadone maintenance is a long-term affair. When an individual goes on methadone it isn’t for a few weeks. They’re usually on it for years. Some remain on the drug for the rest of their lives.

Opponents of methadone argue that this isn’t sober, isn’t clean, but just another form of addicted. They argue that the addict’s brain is still flooded with opioid molecules and that they’re still “under the influence.”

These are all valid points. Still, there are some benefits to medication assisted therapy. First and foremost, methadone improves quality of life for many people. Are they still addicted? Certainly. Are they using street drugs and stealing to get their next fix? Nope.

Following this line of thinking, being in a methadone program shows the individual wants to change their life. Are they “willing to go to any length?” Perhaps not. There’s something to be said for any sort of positive change though.

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Methadone for Chronic Pain

Another answer to the question “what is methadone used for” is that it’s used to treat chronic pain. That’s right folks, methadone for chronic pain is a popular choice among doctors.

what is methadone used for

The reason for this is two-fold. First, methadone has a longer half-life than any other opioid. That means that methadone stays active in the body for longer than any other narcotic painkiller. Although morphine has long been the gold standard for pain treatment, methadone for chronic pain offers longer relief.

Second, methadone is used to treat pain because it offers a relatively “euphoria free” type of pain relief. Make no mistake, methadone is an opioid and, as such, it will get users high. The euphoria wears off after the first few times someone takes the drug though.

Rather than producing a high, methadone will begin to bind to opioid receptors and act only as an analgesic. Now everyone’s body is different and it may still produce euphoria in some. For the most part, though, it’s large on painkilling effects and short on getting users high.

Why is methadone withdrawal the hardest withdrawal?

The Final Verdict

So, what’s the final consensus? Is methadone good or bad? Is it a safe and effective way for addicts to get clean? Or is it a sinister drug that unintentionally hooks users?

The answer is up to you. For some, methadone is a lifesaver. For others, it’s just one more hurdle on the road to freedom. What do you think? Let us know on social media!

We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.