Some patients can’t get longer supplies, even though the federal government has eased restrictions for the drug used to treat opioid use disorder.
Amanda Marr has been a client at the Discovery House methadone clinic in Waterville for seven years. She said she’s never missed her dose or failed a urine test.
Marr figured she’d be the perfect candidate to take advantage of recently relaxed federal restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus outbreak. Patients, as many as 4,000 in Maine, who are accustomed to making regular visits to the clinic to get their medication can now get take-home doses of up to one month.
But that hasn’t happened for everyone. Because decisions are left to individual providers, many patients must still visit their clinic regularly.
Marr, 37, who lives in Belgrade, already had been getting a week’s worth of take-home doses before the outbreak and said nothing has changed. She said she knows other clients who still have to visit once a day or every other day.
And, she said, they are still requiring group therapy sessions.
“I told them I wasn’t going to group,” Marr said. “I’m not going to sit in a room full of people who might be sick.”
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released new guidelines for methadone clinics and patients, allowing for up to four weeks of take-home doses for stable patients, without any state or federal sign off required. Less stable patients could get up to two weeks of medication.
That’s a major shift for methadone, which has always been far more restrictive that the other main type of medication treatment for opioid use disorder, Suboxone, sometimes called buprenorphine.
Suboxone providers in Maine have largely switched from in-person appointments to telephone sessions, which means their medication is not at risk of disruption. Some patients also have gotten longer prescriptions in light of the restrictions from coronavirus.
Source: Press Herald