ARTICLE OVERVIEW: This article reviews how methadone clinics operate in Florida. Learn more about the process of receiving methadone and where you can find treatment here.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What is Methadone Treatment?
- How Methadone Clinics in Florida Work
- Florida Regulation of Methadone
- Florida Laws and Rules
- Methadone Problems in Florida
- Florida Methadone Doctors
- Florida Sponsored Methadone Clinics
- Florida Methadone for Veterans
- The Drug Epidemic in Florida
- Methadone Saves Lives
What is Methadone Treatment?
Methadone is a medicine that treats opiate and opioid addiction. Research shows that when treating substance-use disorders, a combination of medication and behavioral therapies is most successful. Medication assisted treatment, or MAT, using methadone is clinically driven with a focus on individualized patient care. 
However, methadone is still relatively controversial. It is prescribed or administered under highly controlled conditions. So while methadone is considered safe and effective for treating opioid addiction when used as directed, it is highly regulated. 
How does it work?
Methadone has a slow onset of action. As it builds up in your system, the medication produces stable levels of the drug in the brain. As a result, people who use this medication do not experience a rush if they try to use stronger drugs like heroin. Instead, the euphoric effects are usually dampened or suppressed. Plus, people on methadone report marked reduction in their desire to use opioids.
How Methadone Clinics in Florida Work
So, how do methadone clinics work? What can you expect if you’re making your first visit? Here’s what it can look like when you seek methadone treatment in Florida.
STEP 1: The first time you visit a methadone clinic, you usually don’t receive medication. You can generally expect to go through a screening as you talk about the nature of your problem to a counselor or nurse. You’ll be asked about your medical history in detail. You may need to submit a drug test. Then, the staff will inform you about the treatment program, its goals, and its guidelines.
STEP 2: In Florida, patients are required to visit a methadone clinic every day to satisfy guidelines for receiving doses. Methadone is administered orally or under the tongue in specified doses. Treatment usually runs $84 to $140 a week, depending on the dose. For methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum. Some people continue to benefit from methadone maintenance for many years.
STEP 3: In some special cases, you may be given a take home dose. These take home doses will increase over time and during phases of treatment. If you follow the treatment regimen, you can qualify for more and more take home doses.
STEP 4: You may have to submit regular or random blood and/or urinalysis tests.
STEP 5: You might visit the clinic to attend counseling sessions. Counseling can focus on relapse prevention, how to repair and rebuilt personal or professional relationships, or deal with stress. Group, family, and one-on-one sessions may be offered. The format can vary according to each client because some people attain stability more quickly while others take more time.
Florida Regulation of Methadone
If you’re ready to start taking methadone, there are a few things that you should know. In Florida, laws have been set up to make sure that the clinic is safe. We outline those laws in the next section. Plus, you need to know about the way clinics are regulated.
In Florida, the Florida Department of Health partners with the Department of Children and Families, or DCF, to oversee methadone clinics in the state. DCF runs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program, or SAMH. SAMH licenses and regulates methadone clinics in the state. So, in Florida, DCF is the single state authority on substance abuse and mental health as designated by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The basics on Florida methadone regulation:
1. First, a clinic needs to be licensed to operate in the state. Check license verification with the Florida Department of Children and Families Methadone Clinic Contact List.
2. Second, the clinic needs to be operating using standard procedures. Clinics within a 100 mile radius share client lists, for example, to prevent overlap. Additionally, your eligibility needs to be assessed for maintenance doses and you need to submit random drug tests during treatment.
3. Third, detox clinics must maintain a patient-staff ratio. If a clinic is too booked, staff cannot give you the service and attention you need. In Florida, counselors must have a caseload that is equal to or less than 32 currently participating clients.
Family members, partners, and friends have the option of accompanying you to an appointment at any time. At the methadone clinic, physicians, nurses, and counselors may regularly or periodically be present. Receptionists, treatment advisors, and others involved in your case may be there, as well.
Still, some methadone clinics may be breaking these laws. So, how can you report fraud or malpractice? You can report a methadone clinic or doctor who prescribed methadone via the DCF website. Complaints can be filed against any healthcare practitioner or facility licensed or regulated by the Department. Complaints can also be filed against any individual or facility providing health care services without a valid Florida license.
Florida Laws and Rules
Methadone clinics are strictly regulated in Florida. Some critics think that the state makes it too difficult for people to access methadone. Each clinic is founded and operates within the law. Here are some of the most important state and federal laws that govern the prescription of methadone in the Sunshine State.
Title 42, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Part 8: In the United States, the treatment of opiate and opioid addiction with medications is governed by the Certification of Opioid Treatment Programs, Code of Federal Regulations. This law created a system to accredit and certify opioid treatment programs that prescribe methadone. In this law, patients must receive counseling in addition to methadone, which can include different forms of behavioral therapy. 
The Florida Administrative Code Rule: 65D-30.014: This law outlines the Florida State standards for medication and methadone maintenance treatment. It outlines everything from licensing to distribution, and sets up the legal and administrative framework for methadone treatment in the state. 
Bill CS/CS/HB 21: The Florida State legislature recently voted this bill into law. It allocates state funding for methadone treatment. So, for Fiscal Year 2018-19, the bill appropriates over $14M in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Children and Families for community-based services for addiction and $6M for medication assisted treatment for people in the criminal justice system. 
Problems with Methadone in Florida
If you receive methadone, you probably need to make daily trips to a clinic, which are often out of the way. Sometimes, clinics can be 50-100 miles away, one way. However, the Department of Children and Families have ruled that: “People living within 50 miles of a clinic do not face a travel hardship.”
According to a 2018 article written in the Palm Beach Post, even though Florida officials were well aware of the impact of even a few extra miles on a person’s ability to get and stay sober, official reports on the need for new clinics – as required by law – are few and far between.  Most people start dropping out of drug programs if they have to travel even 4 miles, much less 50.
Additionally, clinics are frequently for-profit, cash-only businesses. Some charge $20 or more per person per day, to access methadone. Medicaid is rarely accepted in Florida.
Florida Methadone Doctors
If you take methadone, you must receive the medication under the supervision of a physician. After a period of stability based on progress and proven, consistent compliance with the medication dosage, you may be allowed to take methadone at home between program visits.
By law, methadone can only be dispensed through an opioid treatment program certified by SAMHSA. So, how can you find a doctor who’s licensed to prescribe methadone in Florida? You can find all state and federally licensed programs that offer methadone treatment through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Check out treatment centers who are authorized to offer patients methadone in Florida in the following link.
State Sponsored Methadone Clinics in Florida
The Florida State Department of Children and Families oversees the regulation of methadone clinics in Florida. If you are looking for methadone medication assisted treatment in Florida, you can find a list of licensed providers across the state by region. The table includes accepted forms of payment, medications offered, and if the provider treats pregnant women.
State Methadone Office SOTA
Department of Children & Families
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Program Office
1317 Winewood Blvd. Building 6
Tallahassee Florida 32399
NOTE HERE: State funds and federal block grant funds finance only not-for-profit clinics, and no for-profit ones. Some private, for-profit clinics in Florida accept only client fees as payment for services; they do not accept private insurance or Medicaid, and they are ineligible to receive state agency and block grant funding.
Florida Methadone for Veterans
If you are a U.S. war veteran, you can apply for subsidized treatment through the Office of Veterans Affairs, the VA. The VA provides many options for men and women seeking treatment for substance use problems. The services they offer depend on your specific needs. So, you can be eligible to receive medically managed detoxification as well as drug substitution therapies like methadone. Counseling and other therapy options are recommended in tandem with methadone treatment. 
To apply for help with addiction, you’ll need your most recent tax return, social security numbers for yourself and your qualified dependents, and account numbers for any current health insurance you already have like Medicare, private insurance, or insurance from your employer. You can apply for VA benefits online, by phone, by mail, or in person. It usually takes a week or less to be approved.
Once approved, you need to find a VA facility in Florida that can begin treatment with methadone. Most VA Medical Centers offers substance use treatment. To find a clinic closest to you, contact your local VA Medical Center and ask for the Mental Health clinic. Many Vet Centers and VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics also offer SUD treatment. For a listing of VA centers in Florida, check out the Florida VA Directory here.
The Drug Epidemic in Florida
Florida is facing a major problem with addiction. Addiction to strong drugs like pain killers is causing record numbers of deaths and overdoses. Families are being torn apart, as addiction take hold and makes people unrecognizable. Here are some main stats to let you know that you are not alone.
According to the Florida Medical Association, opioid-related emergency room visits in Florida increased 32.3% between 2009 and 2014. 
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Medical Examiners Report for 2016 found that 5,725 opioid-related deaths occurred in the state of Florida in 2016, 35% increase from 2015. The opioids were identified as either the cause of death or present in the decedent. 
NIDA reported in 2016 2,798 opioid-related overdose deaths in Florid, a rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 persons—compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. 
According to amfAR’s Opioid & Health Indicators database, there are just over 300 facilities providing some medication assisted treatment in Florida in 2019. However, only 5.3% of Florida clinics that offer methadone accept Medical to pay for drug treatment, compared with 24.2% nationwide. 
Why are methadone clinics so important?
Floridians continue to see a dramatic increase in the number of deaths, particularly among those related to synthetic opioids. Methadone is one treatment option that can address the opioid epidemic. Proper use of methadone combined with talk therapy can help people get better. This is why methadone clinics are so important.
Methadone Saves Lives
Maintenance treatments with medicines like methadone saves lives. This drug helps to stabilize people. When stable, you can begin to treat your medical, psychological, and other problems. In this way, methadone helps you contribute effectively as an active members of your family and your society. 
If you struggle with addiction, don’t wait for it to get really bad. Reach out and get help today. The earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to quit. Call our toll free number and we’ll connect you with someone who cares.
Methadone can be a way out.
Why struggle on your own…when help is a phone call away?