Traveling while on methadone: Is guest dosing possible?
Yes, guest dosing is possible when on methadone.
Here, we review the planning required and answer your questions about using guest services while on methadone. Then, we invite your questions about traveling while on methadone at the end.
Methadone and your travel plans
People in addiction recovery that receive opiate substitution therapy must be very organized while taking methadone. Missing doses can result in withdrawal symptoms, increased cravings, and/or relapse. So what happens when you go on vacation and travel while taking methadone?
Thankfully, many certified methadone clinics and dosing centers in America accept patients needing to guest dose. Protocols have been established for communication between your home program and a clinic that is near your vacation spot. But what kind of planning do you need to do? How much does guest dosing typically cost? And how do you follow up AFTER your vacation?
What you need to do to continue methadone therapy
AMS of Delaware, a health care provider located in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, welcomes visiting or transitioning clients into the area. Their methadone guest dosing services have been in place for years to ensure that you can keep on a stable path to recovery. Today, we speak with Richard Ruby, the National Operations Coordinator at Addiction Medical Solutions, LLC.. In this interview, we talk about what you need to do to get methadone therapy while traveling and what options clinics offer.
If you have any additional questions about traveling while on methadone or want to leave a comment about medication assisted treatment for opiate addiction, please message us in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We try to respond to all questions with a personal, prompt reply.
ADDICTION BLOG: Roughly how many methadone clinics in the U.S. currently operate guest dosing services?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Every medication assisted treatment facility has the ability to offer guest dosing services to referring agencies. A rough estimate would be 250 + centers across the U.S.
ADDICTION BLOG: Where can methadone users usually find guest dosing clinics? Are guest dosing services usually set up in many cities or do clinics tend to offer these services near popular tourist destinations, for example?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Virtually every medication assisted treatment facility is fully equipped and capable of accepting guest dosing referrals, not just in high traffic vacation areas either. Clinical staff and patients alike can find guest dosing facilities through the Federal Tx Locator or by using medication specific, Buprenorphine Treatment Locator reserved for those patient taking Suboxone.
ADDICTION BLOG: What percentage of methadone users do you think currently use this option?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Rough estimate would be approximately 55% of patients use guest dosing options during vacation, however, requirements for coordination of care vary from state to state as the sole discretion belongs to the receiving facility once the last dose of medication is verified from referring agency.
Some programs require upwards of 2 to 3 weeks to accommodate for guest dosing requests whereby, AMS of Delaware, a member of Addiction Medical Solutions, LLC is able to accommodate in 24 hours or less for this purpose which makes vacation stress-free and convenient.
ADDICTION BLOG: What kinds of documents does someone taking methadone need to prepare in order to receive methadone while traveling?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Documents include:
- A Signed Consent
- A 30 day medication dosing history
- Proposed dates for guest dosing
**** NOTE HERE that one federal requirement is proof of valid identification upon time of arrival to any guest dosing facility. Furthermore, the majority of programs require mandatory locked storage containers for safeguard/security of health sustaining medication.
ADDICTION BLOG: Can a person travel internationally and receive methadone in another country?
AMS OF DELAWARE: One wants to be extremely careful traveling into international waters and in/out of certain countries whereby methadone is strictly prohibited even with a valid doctor’s order.
ADDICTION BLOG: Who IS NOT ELIGIBLE for guest dosing services and why? Ex. People going through induction.
AMS OF DELAWARE: In general, referral agencies frown upon accepting new patients within the first 90 days of treatment. However, Addiction Medical Solutions is capable of medically monitoring these cases with distribution of one medically observed dose of medication per day, again discretion lies with receiving agency to accept or decline requests. A few programs are unable to dispense odd number doses as their medication is prepacked through independent providers.
ADDICTION BLOG: How much does this service typically cost in clinics around the country? What is the range?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Most programs charge anywhere between $20 to $30 fees for one time registration plus $20 to $25 dollars per dose of medication.
ADDICTION BLOG: What happens if someone misses a dose of methadone while on the road?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Methadone has a half life of 48 hours, therefore for a patient who normally doses at 100mg daily, they would still have approx 50mg in their system the next day. Although missing a dose may be moderately uncomfortable, its not unbearable and will not provoke withdrawal.
ADDICTION BLOG: What about weekend dosing when clinics are closed (Sunday, for example)?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Generally, it’s understood that if the receiving program is closed for normal operations on Sunday, than a take home dose would be issued to cover for Sunday unless strictly instructed otherwise by the referring agency.
ADDICTION BLOG: Should people traveling out of town schedule an appointment with their hometown methadone clinic physician BEFORE leaving?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Yes.
Patients interested in guest dosing should always make an appointment with their counselor to make pre-arrangements minimum of two (2) weeks prior to departure for vacation. Plus, they should be well informed on pricing for guest dosing programs. In addition, they need to know the hours of the guest clinic’s operations and be informed about any other special instructions.
ADDICTION BLOG: What should happen when a traveler returns to their hometown methadone clinic? Do they needs to schedule an appointment with their physician AFTER travel, for example?
AMS OF DELAWARE: Absolutely not.
All the patient has to do is to turn in the empty take home bottles. Their home program makes a phone call to the referral agency to verify the date and last dose of medication received by the patient.
ADDICTION BLOG: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
AMS OF DELAWARE: LIFE IS STRESSFUL ENOUGH. HOWEVER, GUEST DOSING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE; At least this is the viewpoint of Addiction Medical Solutions, LLC and its affiliate programs.
You can visit amsdelaware.com or www.addictionmedicalsolutions.com for further information or to find links to federal/state resources regarding addiction.
Photo credit: Jenifer Correa