No- methadone is an opioid agonist- a synthetic opiate that works by attaching itself to the same receptors in the brain that opiates do. However, it will not show up on a low panel chart test- a lab generally has to specifically test for it. Methadone clinics themselves must give random, supervised, frequent drug tests to all patients, and of course, opiates is a constant they test for- if methadone did, the we'd all be getting fails and the whole process would be pointless.
Court systems use a mid- level test for urine screens- it rarely is a quickie drug store test, and this is why they contract with outside labs. Those tests work slightly different- if you turn positive for anything, a second tier test is done that tells them the serum levels of whatever drugs you're testing positive for: many probationary/parole clients who come in were using prior to, and therefore, it is likely will have some residual in their system, even if they've quit. For this reason, the court go by a serum level to determine if you are negative or positive, not simple or yes or no testing. If you over the set number, you're positive, etc. Special consideration is taken when a client comes in over that, and consistently goes down with each test, even though over positive line, since it's obvious they've ceased using and are simply expelling their previous use's half life.
Here is an article from methadone today confirming what i've said:
However, methadone clinics will provide you with a letter that demonstrates you're prescribed methadone. If you're sincerely trying to stay clean, and abusing methadone (i.e., taking it without a prescription), just get on it legally- it makes no sense not to, if you are really are, as you say, using it to stay clean. NOT getting on it properly puts yourself at risk, as well as the thousands of us who need it, have gotten sober with it, and stand to lose our rights to it when addicts abuse it.
If I have misunderstood your question, and you are truly in treatment, and prescribed methadone, and simply afraid they won't regard it as acceptable, this is a mock letter you might want to present them to. While intended for general physicians, as a means to prevent possible stigma, it should apply itself to the same overall purpose, i.e., showing it's a legitimate form of treatment, and you, a legitimate patient.
It is also from an issue of Methadone Today:
Something else you should consider, if you are self medicating, is that the pharmacology of methadone is unlike any other opiates/opioid agonists: it does not following the usual dosing guidelines of height, weight, and previous tolerance from opiate abuse; it's time released, and therefore lasts anywhere from 24-72 hours per dose. MMT clinics dose daily; once every 24 hours, but a tremendous amount of research and studies have now demonstrated fast/slow metabolizers- essentially, people who metabolize methadone differently; and require case specific dosing schedules. Methadone also blocks other opiates, and because it doesn't produce a buzz, many uneducated users mistakenly assume they just haven't taken enough, and take more, or mix it. While it's relatively safe, when taken as prescribed, it can be lethal in small doses for those who aren't supervised and it's extremely lethal in combination with many very simple OTC & prescriptions meds that are otherwise considered safe.
Methadone also builds up in the system, and this residual is monitored through clinics, to avoid potential toxicity- these are all things you, regardless of what you believe you know, couldn't possibly be certain of without blood serum level testing (peak and troughs).
If this seems harsh, it's not that I'm not sympathetic to your plight- addiction is hard; opiate addiction in particular- you state you're using to "stay clean"; but in reality, you're NOT. You're still self medicating, still abusing medication, and you're making those of us who need it, and are responsible about it, look bad. Worse yet, you're risking thousands of people's sobriety when you could, if genuinely serious about staying clean, just GET on the program legitimately. MMT clinics exist in every state, and while some regulations are stricter, there's still ones there. All MMT clinics are state run and certified- there's no private MMT clinics- and they all have payment plans; accept Medicaid, & have grants and other fiscal assistance, usually in the form of sliding scales based on income. Most addicts coming into the program aren't working, and MMT clinics help you acclimate by offering initial assistance, while you get back to employment.
Furthermore, staying clean with MMT isn't just about taking your daily dose. While we're not AA/Spiritual based; there is a great deal of expectations: treatment plans, one on one counseling, state mandated educational classes, group therapy, tri-monthly treatment goal plans- all of which are intended to help you get clean beyond your daily dose. Sobriety isn't just about stopping your drug intake- we have bad habits to break, life lessons to learn, and messes to clean up. Perhaps you think you're different, but ANY treatment program will tell you, nope, you're not special- we're not unique in our addiction- we're all in the same boat, we've all made the same mistakes, ad we've all got to clean them up. The mistake's and the streets and the names may vary, but the science behind addiction does not.
Methadone Maintenance Clinics (MMT) follow strict regulations that entail starting every new patient/opiate addict off at the very low dose of 20-30mg and From there, each patient is seen by the clinic physician on a weekly basis, and given the small increase of 2 -5 mg once a week, until they are â€śstabilizedâ€ť- meaning theyâ€™re feeling normal- not in acute physical withdrawal from the sudden lack of opiates in their system. From that point on, there is a blood test called a peak and trough, that measures the serum levels of the methadone in the patient, to ensure their dose is of a therapeutic level, and not so high as to cause drowsiness.
Iâ€™m assuming weâ€™re all familiar, but in case not- opiate addiction, unlike other drugs, causes a physical dependence. If an addict suddenly stops using opiates, they become severely ill. Methadone is an opioid agonist- not an opiate, but a synthetic drug that works on the same receptors in the brain that opiates do, and therefore â€śtricksâ€ť the brain into thinking itâ€™s getting opiates.
There is a lot of science behind it- but the long and short of it is that our bodies produce endorphins- natural pain killers- in small amounts, as needed. Opiates- drugs derived from the poppy plant- (heroin, vicodin, Darvon, oxycontin, morphine, dilaudid, etc.)- when taken, cause an influx of these endorphins. When a person takes opiates on a regular basis, the human body, which is extremely adept at conserving itâ€™s natural resources- recognizes that the person is providing them with more than enough synthetic endorphins through opiates- and the body stops producing itâ€™s small amounts. So when an opiate addict suddenly stops using opiates, the body goes into an endorphin-deficiency, causing the person to become very ill.
The Harrison drug act made prescribing methadone for opiate addiction illegal for all but state run clinics. General practitioners/MD's may prescribe it for chronic pain, and have fewer regulations to comply with. As a result, the bulk of the horror stories and propaganda surrounding supposed methadone overdoses can be traced back to irresponsible physicians who prescribed the meds for pain management, NOT MMT clinics prescribing for opiate addiction
Despite the rhetoric and propaganda, there has not been a single death resulting from proper methadone consumption. Overdose is extremely rare; the recent celebrity deaths were the result of patients who obtained the medication from private physicians for supposed pain management, who mixed the medication with other substances, like alcohol and pills. Many of these deaths were the result of miseducation- drug seeking patients unfamiliar with methadone and how it worked, who obtained the medication from physicians or on the street, and upon realizing it didn't get them high, mixed it with other medicines to increase the high- or, as in your case, an addict seeking to do what we as addicts always do- self medicate; even in the name of sobriety.
Whether you pass your test or not, I truly hope you will take a moment to sit back and consider the damage you're doing by misusing methadone. Even something as trivial as a yahoo question like yours an be misconstrued and used as "ammo" against us- another example of why methadone users are bad.
Your county will have a local board of alcohol and drug addiction services- call them. Court supervised probation also looks favorably on clients who take their sobriety serious and get in programs, when they're not court ordered, so it can only help.
If you have trouble locating a clinic- (and bear in mind MMT is not your only option, there are other methods), I would be happy to help put you in touch with someone in your region, and answer any other questions you may have.
I wish you luck in your journey to sobriety.
For further reading:
(This is a group on Facebook about MMT education. If you have any questions, feel free to email me; i am the admin for the group).
* http://www.methadone.org/ (NAMA_ National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery , is one of the leading sources of information and e