Sometimes people involved in methadone maintenance therapy decide they no longer want to attend their program. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are done with that program forever, and that you are doomed to a life of opiate addiction.
Being in any kind of substance abuse treatment brings out a lot of emotions. Drug use feels good, whether people admit it or not, because drugs stimulate the brain’s pleasure and reward center, so they’re hard to give up. Also, many people self-medicate using drugs because they have an emotional health issue and masking it with drugs is easier than addressing it. But when you go into treatment you are forced to admit that what you’ve been doing isn’t conducive to a good lifestyle. It’s natural to get angry at the people you meet in methadone maintenance therapy who ‘call all the shots’. So what if you smoked some weed; that’s nothing like shooting up some H, right? And if you can’t do drugs, why is drinking forbidden—after all, alcohol is legal as long as your over 21, right? We don’t have to respond to those questions here. You already know the answers: You really can’t succeed at methadone maintenance therapy if you don’t develop a lifestyle that’s free of the bad habits that came with drug use. You won’t be able to put the drug lifestyle behind you if you don’t really work on recovery: No medications except those prescribed or approved by your methadone maintenance therapy physician. As far as alcohol goes, you already know that both methadone and buprenorphine can turn it into a deadly cocktail and send you into a fatal respiratory arrest. And you have to watch all those negative people, places, and things associated with your past addiction.
You Still Need methadone maintenance Therapy
Whether you were discharged from treatment rightfully or wrongfully, you need to get back into treatment. If you severed your connection with the methadone maintenance therapy suddenly, you may not be aware that many, many clients leave methadone maintenance therapy and then return to it. Some programs may have a policy that requires you to wait—some places stipulate six months—until you can return, and others will readmit you immediately. It most likely depends on your reason for leaving the program in the first place. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) addresses readmission, cautioning substance abuse treatment providers that most clients should be welcomed back. The doctors and counselors know that you may hesitate to return because you feel ashamed or angry. You may feel guilt if you’ve actually relapsed. If you were still learning how to communicate effectively with your counselor, you may feel that the relationship is lost because of your interruption in methadone maintenance therapy. But most of your fears are unfounded. The program where you receive methadone or buprenorphine may refuse you readmission if you’ve committed some kind of violence against staff or other clients or if you’ve sabotaged someone else’s recovery or their right to confidentiality.
If You’ve Been Away…
Many people are pulled out of methadone maintenance therapy in order to answer legal charges, and they end up in jail. First, be assured that substance abuse treatment counselors dread when this happens to their clients, because they know that jails and prisons are full of the negative influences and behaviors that get you into treatment in the first place. Second, substance abuse professionals will welcome you back to resume your therapy when you are ready to resume. You can communicate your expected discharge from incarceration with your treatment counselor ahead of time so that they can ease the way for your return. It might also be a time to consider requesting Vivitrol therapy, if you’ve been clean while you were away from treatment. Vivitrol is the brand name for generic naloxone, which blocks the effects of opiates so that even if you try to get high, you cannot. It’s a shot that you receive once a month. Some prisons offer buprenorphine to those who have been taking methadone, and if you’ve been taking that you won’t be eligible but you can resume your medication maintenance therapy. The good thing about Vivitrol is that even if your insurance will not approve it, the company that manufactures Vivitrol offers a payment program so that only 8 percent of clients taking Vivitrol actually have to pay for it. For more information on that visit their website. You cannot take Vivitrol unless you’ve been clean for several weeks, because otherwise the Vivitrol injection will throw you into withdrawal. You also must refrain from using any opiates while you are on Vivitrol, because you could fatally overdose. That includes not only heroin or pain pills but also methadone or Suboxone. Some people underestimate the amount of drugs that they’ve taken, because they aren’t experiencing any high on top of the Vivitrol; they take more drugs, and then they die.
No Matter Why You’ve Been Gone, Just Return
Some people leave treatment because of upheaval in their lives, dealing with children’s services or a confrontation with an abusive partner. No matter why you’ve left treatment, unless you’ve been told you cannot return, it’s pretty certain that once you resume contact with the methadone maintenance therapy program you will be able to return. If you have actually been in the maintenance phase of treatment, you will probably go back to an earlier phase. If you had take-home medication, you will most likely have to re-earn it. But don’t let time drive away an opportunity to preserve everything you’ve learned about drugs and about yourself while you were in treatment. Pick up the phone, call your former counselor, and say hey—they will tell you the process for returning. And if they really cannot readmit you to the program, they will refer you to a program that’s also suited to handle your needs. But you won’t know until you call.