ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Methadone is administered as part of Narcotic Treatment Programs in Texas. Combined with counseling and talk therapies, the medicine can offer numerous benefits for people addicted to opiates. We review more about the process of receiving methadone and where to find it in Texas here.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What is Narcotic Treatment?
- How Methadone Clinics in Texas Work
- Texas Regulation of Methadone
- Texas Laws and Rules
- Texas Methadone Doctors
- Texas Sponsored Methadone Clinics
- Texas Methadone for Veterans
- The Drug Epidemic in Texas
- Methadone Saves Lives
What is Narcotic Treatment?
The State of Texas calls use of methadone for addiction “narcotic treatment”. It’s a form of medication assisted treatment. During narcotic treatment, you take prescribed medications in combination with counseling and talk therapy to treat opiate or opioid use disorder.
So, what is methadone? How does it work?
Methadone is a synthetic, long-acting opioid that works by acting on the brain receptors. It “covers” nerve receptors so that if you take strong drugs, you don’t get high. In the same way, methadone can dull withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. It is a Schedule II controlled substance…which means that it is habit forming and has the potential for possible addiction if not used as directed. 
Public health officials consider medication assisted treatment one of many solutions that can help the growing number of people in the U.S. addicted to opioids. However, use of methadone is controversial. While it can be essential, some people abuse it. That’s why this type of treatment shouldn’t be limited to medicines. Other services include case management and referrals to help with lifestyle changes.
How Methadone Clinics in Texas Work
Narcotic Treatment Programs in Texas are specialized medical clinics that use methadone or buprenorphine to help people reduce or quit their use of heroin or pain killer drugs. It is illegal to use methadone without a prescription, to sell or give it to someone else. There are also laws against forging or altering a prescription or making false representation to obtain methadone or a prescription for the drug. 
So, how do methadone clinics in Texas works?
STEP 1: Screening
You won’t be processed for admission as a patient of a methadone clinic until you have been determined eligible to enter an narcotic treatment program. So, you will be screened by a health care professional to see if you meet the criteria. Exception to this screening phase include pregnant women, patients who have resided in a penal or chronic care institution for one month or longer, and patients who have had two documented attempts at short-term detoxification or drug-free treatment.
The screening process can include a history of your drug use, a medical history, psychological and sociological background questions, educational and vocational achievements, current mental status, and a physical examination. Also, you should be 18 or older with moderate to severe opioid use disorder for at least 12 months in order to qualify to receive methadone.
STEP 2: Admission and Initial Evaluation
After it’s been determined that you meet the criteria for admission, you will be evaluated by the medical director or program physician and clinical staff trained and qualified to perform assessments. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine if methadone treatment is the most appropriate treatment for you. The evaluation usually includes an assessment of your medical, psychosocial, educational, and vocational needs.
STEP 3: Drug Testing
Before receiving methadone, you will have to submit an initial drug test. For the first year of treatment, you will have to submit random drug tests each month, and eight random drug abuse tests yearly afterward.
STEP 4: Treatment Planning
Based on the initial screening and evaluation, your primary counselor will create an individualized treatment plan. The treatment plan will be reviewed at least once each 90 days during the first year of treatment, and at least twice a year thereafter. Planning will include a dosing schedule and outline recommended prescription use. You’ll also be encouraged to seek counseling or talk therapy at the same time you are taking methadone.
Dosing and length of treatment
Typically, most people go to a methadone clinic on a daily basis, six days a week. How long treatment will last is different for each patient, but for methadone maintenance, 12 months is considered the minimum. Some people use methadone for many years. The cost of treatment will be based on your income and expenses, and you may need to pay for some services. If you comply with the rules of the program, you may be allowed a certain quantity of take-home doses. 
Counseling and behavioral therapies are an essential part of a Narcotic Treatment Program. They can help you reach stability faster and become a productive member of society. They can help you focus on relapse prevention, gain control over your life and learn to live a drug-free life. Individual and group therapies, family and couples counseling are just some of the services you may be offered.
Regulation of Methadone
In order to ensure the safety of patients and the quality of services, the state of Texas has set up numerous laws and regulations that outline how methadone should be used. The Narcotic Treatment Section of the Patient Quality Care Unit is responsible for regulating and inspecting methadone clinics in Texas. There are currently 75 maintenance programs in Texas that treat around 11,000 opiate-addicted patients.
There are few things you should consider if you are enrolling in a Narcotic Treatment Program in Texas. If you become a patient at a methadone clinic, you should be informed of your rights. Here are some basic principles to keep in mind.
1. Every narcotic treatment program in Texas must have a state permit issued by the Texas Department of Health and a federal permit issued by the SAMSHA and the DEA. If you want to make sure that a specific narcotic treatment clinic in Texas has a license, check the directory of narcotic treatment clinics.
2. Your patient confidentiality is protected by federal law.
3. Methadone clinics in Texas are required to provide or offer referrals to their patients. These services include social and human services, mental health services, educational and vocational services, family counseling, and HIV/AIDS counseling, prevention, and risk-reduction education.
4. In Texas, the patient-staff ratio needs to be a maximum of 50 patients for each counselor. Texas allows an increase in the ratio under certain circumstances. But if you don’t feel that you’re receiving the attention that you need, file a complaint on the hotline number below.
5. Methadone should be administered or dispensed in oral form by a certified health care professional.
If you believe that any TX State methadone clinic is not following the state regulations you may file a complaint. Complaints may be mailed, faxed or delivered by phone via the complaint hotline.
Texas Laws and Rules
Narcotic clinics in Texas are tightly regulated. There are numerous state and federal laws that govern the prescription and dispensing of methadone. Also, there are laws that regulate how narcotic treatment clinics work. Here are some of the most important ones:
Title 42, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Part 8: The Certification of Opioid Treatment Programs, Code of Federal Regulations governs the treatment of opiate and opioid addiction with FDA-approved medications. This law outlines the system created to accredit and certify opioid treatment programs that prescribe methadone. In this law, patients must receive counseling and behavioral therapies in addition to methadone. 
Texas Administrative Code: Chapter 229 Subchapter J Minimum Standards for Narcotic Treatment Programs: This subsection of the Texas Administrative Code provides the minimum standards for the establishment and operation of a narcotic treatment program in Texas. It outlines the state and federal regulations, program application procedures, program fees, program operations, and enforcement procedures. 
Texas Health & Safety Code, Chapter 466: The purpose of this Chapter is outlining the regulation of narcotic drug treatment programs, and ensuring the proper use of approved narcotic drugs in the treatment of persons with a narcotic dependency. 
Texas Methadone Doctors
You can’t just go to a doctor in Texas and get a dose of methadone. By law, methadone is administered or dispensed in oral form in a licensed narcotic program only. Further, the law requires that the physician responsible for prescribing and supervision of methadone is licensed to practice medicine and has worked in the field of addiction medicine a minimum of one year. 
The clinic is there to ensure your safety. And methadone should be administered in a way that reduces the potential for abuse.
In Texas, methadone can be prescribed and taken only under the supervision of a physician via a licensed narcotic treatment programs.
How can you find a methadone prescribing doctor in Texas? You can find all state and federally licensed programs that offer methadone treatment through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMSHA. Check out treatment centers who are authorized to offer patients methadone in the State of Texas in the following link.
State Sponsored Methadone Clinics in Texas
Texas is home to a number of private and public narcotic clinics that provide methadone. Public clinics are state-funded and usually have a longer waiting list than the private ones. So, what benefits exist to help people who are in need of financial aid?
If you want to receive coverage for methadone, federal law mandates that you are enrolled in, or have documented proof of, substance use disorder counseling.
Then, Texas Medicaid covers methadone under Fee-For-Service (FFS) and Managed Care (MC) plans. Methadone is listed as a medical and pharmacy benefit under both FFS and MC plans. Methadone also appears on the preferred drug list under both FFS and MC plans and is covered for use in accredited outpatient narcotic treatment programs under both plans.
There are a number of free narcotic clinics that support people trying to overcome opioid addiction. Texas Department of State Health Services’ website provides a list of licensed state-sponsored narcotic treatment facilities.
Texas Methadone for Veterans
Addiction is quite common for U.S. war veterans. Many veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Using drugs and alcohol can be a way of coping with the memory of past events.
If you’re a veteran suffering from opioid addiction, you can seek help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In order to apply, 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.
Through this organization, you can find a number of treatment services and receive medically managed detoxification as well as drug substitution therapies like methadone. Counseling and other behavioral therapies may also be a part of your methadone treatment.
If you are interested, you can apply to receive VA health care online, by phone, by mail, or in person. In general, in a week or less, your application should be approved. Once you get the approval you’ll need to find a VA facility in Texas and start treatment with methadone. For a listing of VA centers in Texas, check out the Texas VA Directory here.
The Drug Epidemic in Texas
In Texas, the opioid crisis is a public health emergency. It affects people from all generations and socioeconomic status. In fact, almost half of all drug overdose deaths in Texas involve opioids. As a response, the Texas Department of State Health Services has developed two strategies in order to address opioid misuse. 
- Improving surveillance. The Department of State Health Services has started using health data in real time collected from hospitals, emergency centers, and urgent care providers, to look for early warning signs of overdose. Healthcare providers has also started reporting overdoses involving controlled substances to the state.
- Expanding prevention through education and training. Texas has started naloxone overdose education, buprenorphine waiver training, and maternal opioid misuse prevention.
The goal of these initiatives is to establish safety guidelines in hospitals for recognizing opioid misuse and enhancing care for women with opioid use disorder, during and after pregnancy.
The following statistics taken from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, will give you an insight into the Texas opioid epidemic:
- Texan physicians wrote 53.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2017.
- In Texas, 1,458 overdose deaths involving opioids were reported in 2017.
- Deaths involving fentanyl tripled from 118 in 2007 to 348 deaths in 2017.
- There were 569 heroin-involved overdose deaths in 2017
Even in light of these figures, Texas continues to have one of the lowest rates of drug overdose deaths involving opioids in the country. The implementation of the strategies is expected to decrease these numbers even further. 
Methadone Saves Lives
Can methadone help?
Methadone can save your life. It keeps you stable enough that you can make positive changes in your life. Methadone therapy will reduce or help you to avoid health problems such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, skin infections and vein problems.
If it is part of a comprehensive treatment program, methadone treatment is more likely to be successful. Usually, treatment includes a combination of counseling, alternative therapies and the development of a positive support network of peers, friends and a support group. Work with a physician or a counselor to find the best approach that addresses your needs.
If you are struggling with opioid addiction, know that you are not alone. With the right addiction treatment program, you can achieve a lot. If you need help finding the right treatment center in Texas or would like more information on narcotic programs, we invite you to give us a call today. Our admission navigators are available 24/7.