What Is A Methadone Clinic?

Written By

Amanda Stevens B.S.

A methadone clinic is a medical and behavioral health facility that provides medication-assisted treatment for those suffering from opioid use disorder. During treatment, patients receive low doses of methadone to relieve withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and help them taper off more harmful painkillers or opioids safely and sustainably.

History of Methadone Clinics In The U.S.

Since the 1950s, Methadone has been the preferred method of treating opioid dependence. However, because Methadone is an opioid itself, it’s highly regulated for the safety of those taking it. One way the FDA does this is by restricting the dispensing of Methadone to licensed centers known as Methadone Clinics. These clinics are staffed by highly trained physicians and staff experienced in helping individuals overcome addiction with the help of medication.

Recovery Unplugged is a licensed “Medication Assisted Treatment” facility, which means we use FDA-approved medications to help our patients by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. We’ve found that those seeking recovery often benefit from the effective combination of medication and behavioral rehab, and at Recovery Unplugged, we also believe in the power of music. Our MAT programs include cognitive behavioral therapy, suboxone (buprenorphine with naltrexone), and other outpatient treatment services tailored to your needs.

Details of A Methadone Clinic

Methadone is approved by the FDA to treat pain management and has been proven to be safe and effective when taken as prescribed.[1] However, since it can be addictive, patients must receive their dosage from a licensed provider. Methadone clinics see patients daily to dispense Methadone in a controlled environment.

Studies have shown the benefits of Methadone greatly outweigh the potential risks.[2] They include:

  • Reduced injection of illegal substances
  • Lower HIV transmission
  • Significantly lower death rates related to opioid usage
  • Reduced criminal activity for opioids

While it is true that Methadone Clinics carry a certain stigma, the positive effects of the medication can’t be denied. As with any medication, the key is to ensure that the drug is administered safely and that usage is monitored closely.

Methadone Drug Facts

Methadone is a synthetic opioid that was first made by German scientists in the 1930s looking for non-addictive painkillers. When the rise in heroin addiction hit the United States, Methadone was used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone can help individuals resist the urge to take illegal substances by shortening and weakening the typical withdrawal timeline of opioids. When taken properly, the craving for drugs can be suppressed for 24 to 36 hours and is usually taken for at least one year in what’s called Methadone Maintenance Treatment or MMT.

How Does Methadone Work?

Methadone works by attaching to your brain’s opioid receptors at a slower rate than natural opioids do. This slower process reduces the feeling of euphoria and changes how your brain reacts to pain. When Methadone is in your system, it will block the effects of other opioids, effectively lowering the ability to achieve a high and aiding relapse prevention.

What is a methadone clinic?

What Happens In Medication-Assisted Treatment at a Methadone Clinic?

Methadone clinics can either be public or private but are always certified and monitored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency. At a public clinic, you can expect to be added to a waiting list that could be days or weeks long. Private clinics often have no waiting list but can be more expensive.

Once a clinic is selected, an individual plan is set for each patient based on their background and the extent of their drug use. The length of the treatment program will be discussed, and any social, medical, and legal matters will be addressed. All mental health issues need to be uncovered during the intake process so they can be treated along with the addiction itself.

Whether private or public, the process for Methadone treatment follows the same general steps

Intake Examination: Each person receives a physical by a healthcare physician to adhere to documentation requirements.

Treatment Plan: Personalized treatment options will be discussed and typically include counseling services in addition to MAT. Private clinics often include group counseling and individual meetings with healthcare providers.

Drug testing: In order to continue to receive Methadone treatment, patients must successfully pass eight random drug tests per year at the treatment center. One drug test is given at the beginning of detox and then periodically after that.

Once these steps are taken, individuals are given Methadone as opioid treatment at the facility on a daily basis for, at minimum, one year. Most clinics administer dosages in liquid form or tabs instead of pills. The actual dosage will vary based on the individual’s tolerance and prior drug usage. This dosage will be adjusted over the course of a year and tapered off once recovery is achieved and it’s time for the patient to end their treatment program.

Who Is Methadone Treatment Therapy For?

Methadone treatment is potentially for anyone wanting to overcome opioid addiction and illicit drug use in a controlled environment. The treatment is ideal for anyone struggling to overcome addiction, as the dosing of methadone is based on a patient’s tolerance and needs. However, it is only available for individuals who can prove that their opioid use disorder has lasted for over one year.

If you cannot prove opioid dependence for a year or more, you may qualify for an exception if you’re pregnant or recently released from prison. Typically, individuals under the age of 18 are not eligible for treatment since the effects may be too drastic for brains that haven’t matured yet. However, exceptions may be made in extreme circumstances with the consent of a parent or guardian.

Methadone is for individuals struggling with long-term addiction to illicit drugs such as

  • Oxymorphone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Codeine

Official Data On Medication-Assisted Treatment and Recovery Outcomes

Medication-Assisted Treatment programs are regulated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and cover treatment facilities using FDA-approved medications to help treat opioid addiction.

Studies have shown promising results of the use of methadone in opioid treatment programs [3], such as

  • Heroin usage drops to less than 40% of pretreatment levels in the first year.
  • Usage drops to 15% after two or more years of methadone treatment.
  • Individual functioning is approved.
  • Consumption of all illicit drugs declines
  • HIV transmission is reduced due to less usage of needles.

What Therapies Go Along With Treatment At A Methadone Clinic?

Methadone clinics should always offer a combination of therapies for opioid addiction treatment. These typically include cognitive behavior therapy, group counseling sessions, and individual case management. At Recovery Unplugged, we set ourselves apart by incorporating the power of music whenever possible in our therapy sessions.

Utilizing various modalities of therapy ensures that a patient is treating their addiction from a holistic standpoint. Addiction is rarely a disorder that acts alone. Most people struggling with substance use disorder also have mental health issues that need to be fully addressed to achieve recovery. Group and individual therapies can be crucial tools in this effort and work alongside medication-assisted therapies to help patients reach their goals.

Hope and Healing at Recovery Unplugged

While the use of Methadone may not be for every person seeking recovery from opioid addiction, it has certainly been an effective tool for many since the 1950s. At Recovery Unplugged, we are passionate about finding the best way to give you hope and healing. Let our dedicated staff help you get started today by discussing the many types of treatment offered at our facilities.

How long should you be on methadone?

SAMHSA recommends a minimum of one year for methadone treatment to be the most effective. Some patients may require more extended treatment. If taken as prescribed, methadone can safely be taken for years without any adverse effects and often provides the additional support that individuals need to finally live in recovery.

Can methadone be given at home?

It is possible for methadone doses to be given at home to continue treatment during holidays or even for times such as the recent pandemic. However, this should only be an option once a patient is established in a treatment program and can be trusted to take the medication as prescribed. Since methadone is an opioid, it does run the risk of being abused if not taken as directed. 

What are the side effects of methadone?

The usage of methadone can possibly lead to side effects such as restlessness, upset stomach, itchy skin, constipation, and weight gain. Most side effects are mild and can be managed with little effort. 

Will I still experience detox while on Methadone?

While methadone lessens the effects of detox, it’s likely that you’ll still experience detox symptoms. Symptoms may include stomach issues, sweating, and shakiness. While some can be severe, they typically decrease over the first week. 


  1. Methadone. SAMHSA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/medications-counseling-related-conditions/methadone 
  2. Methadone maintenance treatment – clinical guidelines … – NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310658/
  3. Federal Regulation of Methadone Treatment. (1995). Retrieved March 3, 2023, from Federal Regulation of Methadone Treatment.

Amanda Stevens B.S.

Amanda Stevens is a highly respected figure in the field of medical content writing, with a specific focus on eating disorders and addiction treatment. Amanda earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from Purdue University, graduating Magna Cum Laude, which serves as a strong educational foundation for her contributions.

Collaborating with esteemed organizations like Epiphany Wellness and Ocean Recovery, Amanda has produced valuable and enlightening content that empowers individuals on their path to recovery. Her work with these organizations exemplifies her exceptional expertise and unwavering commitment to providing accurate and reliable information to those seeking assistance.

Amanda's personal journey of recovery from disordered eating fuels her dedication to her profession. Through her own experiences, she has gained firsthand insight into the challenges faced by individuals seeking healing and transformation. Amanda continuously seeks to deepen her understanding of the complexities surrounding mental health and addiction, undertaking specialized courses on Stress & Human Health and Substance Abuse and Health through Purdue University. This ongoing pursuit of knowledge underscores Amanda's commitment to maintaining the highest level of expertise in her field.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Amanda finds immense fulfillment in her role as a mother to two wonderful children. This cherished aspect of her life further ignites her passion for helping others and creating a nurturing environment for her family. Amanda's unwavering commitment to excellence, vast knowledge, and personal experiences make her an invaluable resource for individuals seeking reliable and compassionate guidance on their journey toward recovery and overall well-being.


●Bachelor's of Science, Human Development, Family Studies, and Related Services from Purdue University (2012)


●Professional medical content writer with over 5 years experience

●First hand experience with disordered eating

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