Methadone Clinics in Lancaster

Rules and Regulations

Lancaster, Los Angeles County, California, United States adheres to strict regulations regarding methadone clinics, outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Certification Procedures

To be certified, methadone clinics must:

  • Be accredited by an approved accreditation body
  • Renew accreditation and certification regularly
  • Maintain controlled medication dispensing and patient records
  • Employ qualified staff including licensed medical providers and counselors
  • Follow confidentiality and consent protocols

Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment

Methadone and other medication-assisted treatments for opioid addiction can:

  • Reduce illicit opioid use and overdose deaths
  • Lower risk of contracting infections like HIV and hepatitis
  • Improve social functioning and quality of life
  • Enable patients to focus on recovery goals

How Clinics Operate and Their Purpose

Methadone clinics provide medication, counseling, case management, and other services to treat opioid dependence. The medication relieves withdrawal symptoms and eases cravings without causing a high, allowing people to function and focus on recovery.

Insurance Coverage

Public insurance programs like Medi-Cal and Medicaid cover methadone treatment costs. Some private insurers cover it but there may be co-pays or limitations. Free or low-cost treatment is available from some nonprofit clinics and public health departments for those without insurance.

Drug Use in Lancaster

The opioid crisis has been declared a nationwide public health emergency. Recent statistics on drug overdoses and deaths in Los Angeles County show:

  • Over 1,900 opioid overdose deaths in 2020
  • Over 800 fentanyl overdose deaths in 2021
  • Methamphetamine is involved in the majority of overdose deaths

Top substances involved in overdoses:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Prescription opioids

Addiction Treatment Overview

Inpatient Treatment

  • Average stay 30-90 days
  • Detoxification, counseling, behavioral therapy, medication
  • Round-the-clock care

Outpatient Treatment

  • Sessions 1-5 days per week
  • Offered by clinics, counseling centers
  • Individual, group, and family therapy

Treatment Level Unreported

  • Estimated 30-40% in some form of treatment
  • Many opt for private practice and anonymous programs

Comparison of Treatment in Lancaster vs. Los Angeles

CategoryLancasterLos Angeles
Treatment centers15326
Inpatient beds1103,560
Cost of treatment$15,000$27,000

Methadone Treatment

What is Methadone

Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist medication that is taken orally and used to treat opioid use disorder and pain. As a medication-assisted treatment (MAT), methadone helps prevent opioid withdrawal and reduces opioid cravings through its long-lasting effects as a full opioid agonist. Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) programs provide daily supervised methadone doses and counseling to help individuals with opioid addiction stop or reduce the use of other opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers. The opioid treatment program (OTP) model for MMT includes regulations around dispensing and monitoring to reduce misuse while providing effective treatment.

From a societal view, MMT remains controversial, with some seeing it as merely substituting one opioid for another. However, methadone has been used safely and effectively as a medical treatment for opioid addiction since 1947. When taken as prescribed, methadone does not create euphoria or sedation. It simply prevents withdrawal, reduces cravings, and blocks the effects of other opioids. This allows individuals to focus on counseling, recovery, health, family, and employment without preoccupation with obtaining or using other opioids.

Methadone Distribution

Methadone for MMT can only be dispensed through certified OTPs with strict federal and state regulations to prevent misuse. These include:

  • Urine testing: Patients must undergo random urine drug screens at least 8 times in the first year to ensure they are taking methadone as prescribed and not using other illicit drugs.
  • Take-home requirements: For the first 14 days, the methadone supply is limited to a single 24-hour dose consumed on-site at the clinic. Over time, less frequent clinic visits may be allowed for take-home doses if urine tests remain negative for illicit opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines.
  • Monitoring: OTPs must have an interprofessional team including physicians, nurses, and counselors to evaluate patients, adjust dosing, and provide counseling and referrals.
  • Prescription drug monitoring: Providers should check the state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) database to ensure safe methadone dosage based on other concurrent prescriptions and reduce diversion.

In Los Angeles County, methadone is a Schedule II controlled prescription drug that can only be dispensed through a DEA-licensed and CA state-certified OTP program. Illicit methadone possession is a misdemeanor under CA state law and the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Methadone Treatment Effectiveness Research

Methadone has been used effectively for opioid addiction treatment since it was first studied at Rockefeller University in 1947.

Studies have demonstrated methadone’s effectiveness for opioid use disorder:

  • Patients on MMT have 33% fewer opioid-positive drug tests versus no treatment.
  • MMT patients are 4.44 times more likely to stay in treatment long-term compared to non-medication treatments. Retention in treatment is key to reducing overdose deaths and disease transmission.
  • MMT is associated with reduced criminal behavior and increased employment.

However, methadone does have risks requiring careful monitoring:

  • Potential for misuse/diversion due to its opioid effects.
  • Severe withdrawal if stopped suddenly after dependence develops.
  • Possibility of cardiac issues like QTc prolongation.
  • Increased overdose risk, especially if taken in combination with certain other drugs.

Overall, methadone is equally effective as buprenorphine, another common medication for opioid addiction treatment. When properly managed, the benefits outweigh the risks for many patients. Careful patient selection, dosing, monitoring, and counseling is crucial to successful MMT outcomes.

About Lancaster

Location, County & List of Neighboring States

Lancaster is located in Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley region of California. It is situated in the Mojave Desert. Neighboring states include Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Capital and Largest City

Los Angeles is the capital and largest city in the county.

Land Area

Lancaster has a total area of 94.7 square miles.

Infrastructure

Lancaster has a council-manager style of government. The city provides services like public transportation, water and power utilities, trash collection, emergency services, parks and recreation, libraries, etc. Major highways serving Lancaster are State Routes 14 and 138.

Population Statistics

Total Population

As of 2021, Lancaster had an estimated population of 170,000 residents.

Demographics:

Gender

  • Male: 51%
  • Female: 49%

Age Brackets

  • Under 18 years: 29%
  • 18 to 64 years: 59%
  • 65 years and over: 12%

Occupations

  • Management/business/financial: 13%
  • Sales related occupations: 11%
  • Office/administrative support: 15%
  • Construction/maintenance/repair: 12%
  • Production and transport: 11%
  • Education/healthcare/social service: 23%