What to Expect, Your First Appointment
Those who may be looking at Opioid Replacement therapy as a possible treatment option, often have questions about what happens at their first appointment. Now that you’ve decided on our clinic and verified that we have availability; you’ll go through what is known as the intake process. The intake process varies from clinic to clinic and state to state, but here is what we do.
You will first meet with a nurse or a counselor. Once they verify that you are at least eighteen years old, they will discuss treatment options with you. We want to ensure that you understand what is involved with a methadone or Suboxone and that you are making an informed decision to begin treatment. Often payment is discussed at this stage of the intake. It is very important to understand that opiate treatment is a long term investment in a better life for you and your loved ones.
You will next have the clinical evaluation by a Addiction Specialist. You will be asked about your drug history. You should be honest at every step of the intake process, but especially here. You will discuss your drug use history and the reasons you use substances, including any mental health issues you may be experiencing. Most state laws require that you be addicted to an opiate (not necessarily heroin, but also Oxycontin, etc.) for at least one year before starting Methadone treatment (there are exceptions if you are pregnant or being released from incarceration). During the clinical evaluation we will continue to discuss the program, and you will start signing many, many forms. The issues the forms address include consent to treatment, emergency notification, hospital admissions history, release of personal information, and much more.
Once you fill out all the forms and discuss the treatment program, you will often meet with the clinic’s physician. Before this, you will be subject to a drug screen. This is primarily to check for the presence of illegal drugs. When you meet with the clinic’s doctor, you will be asked to submit to a medical evaluation. The doctor will take an in-depth history of any past or current health problems you maybe experiencing. The doctor will ask you about any medications you take, and will conduct a physical exam to make sure that you are healthy enough to begin treatment. Once the evaluation is completed and the doctor is satisfied that you are a candidate for treatment, you will receive your first dose of methadone, if that is the medication that seems most appropriate for you.
The first dose of methadone you receive is known as the induction dose. It is usually thirty milligrams, and often taken with a time lapse so we can monitor your reactions. It could be less depending on the severity of your habit, but it is never more. You will be advised to watch carefully for symptoms of any complications or overdose, and then sent home.
The process for Suboxone is somewhat different but as carefully monitored.
In the days following your first dose, the dispensing nurse will monitor you and ask you how you are feeling. They are primarily concerned with how the methadone dose is helping to control your withdrawal symptoms. If you are still having symptoms, your dose will be slowly adjusted until you receive the “right” dose.
“The use of Medications is a therapeutic tool & not as a substitute for recovery”