Methadone Clinic Nurses / Methadone Maintenance Treatment Nursing

by TheCommuter 6,073 Views | 4 Comments Senior Moderator

Methadone maintenance treatment is a technique by which people who have opiate dependence receive prescribed amounts of methadone, a synthetic opioid with a longer duration of action, on a daily basis to combat the physically dreadful effects associated with opioid withdrawal syndrome. Keep reading to learn more about the unique role of the methadone clinic nurse.

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    Methadone Clinic Nurses / Methadone Maintenance Treatment Nursing

    According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people who are presently addicted to heroin and other types of opiates is in the ballpark range of around 1 million. Since so many people in this country grapple with opiate addiction, the nurses who work in methadone clinics (also known as methadone maintenance treatment facilities) have a special role in helping these individuals get through each day as smoothly as possible. Methadone maintenance treatment is a technique by which people who have opiate dependence receive prescribed amounts of methadone, a synthetic opioid with a longer duration of action, orally on a daily basis to combat the physically dreadful effects associated with opioid withdrawal syndrome. When given in larger doses, methadone opposes the euphoric effects caused by heroin and other opiates, so medically supervised patients on a suitable dose should be able to discontinue using the other substances on which their bodies once depended.

    Duties / Responsibilities

    The methadone clinic nurse is mainly responsible for counting and administering the controlled substance based on physicians’ orders and documenting per local and federal regulations. Patients who receive methadone maintenance therapy are usually seen by the nurse for no longer than 10 minutes a day. Although 10 minutes seems like a small amount of time, the methadone clinic nurse is quickly assessing each patient for alertness and making sure the person is actually in appropriate physical and mental shape to receive the daily oral dose.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a sizable number of patients on methadone maintenance therapy still abuse heroin and other substances such as alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Therefore, the nurse must be vigilant for symptoms of being under the influence of these substances prior to giving the methadone because unsafe interactions, serious side effects, overdose, and possible death may occur. The methadone clinic nurse also reports changes in condition to the doctor or mid-level provider, collects urinalysis specimens and other samples, views lab results, and informs management of any discrepancies.

    Work Environment

    Methadone clinic nurses work indoors in climate-controlled settings. The job may involve infrequent twisting, bending and lifting.

    Educational Requirements

    Licensed practical nurses and registered nurses with active licensure are eligible to apply for open positions at methadone maintenance treatment facilities. LPNs must have a certificate, diploma or associate of applied science degree in practical nursing. RNs must possess a diploma, associate degree in nursing, bachelor of science degree in nursing, or master of science degree in nursing.

    Personal Attributes

    Ideally, methadone clinic nurses should be accountable and detail-oriented due to the meticulous record keeping involved with controlled substances. These nurses should also be supportive and empathetic toward their patients. Outstanding interpersonal skills and effective communication are necessary because the nurse will be interacting with numerous patients and other members of the interdisciplinary team during a typical shift.

    Salary

    The pay for methadone clinic nurses varies due to factors such as the type of nursing licensure, different wage grids offered by multiple companies, and geographic variances in the cost of living.

    Resources

    http://www.cdc.gov/idu/facts/methadonefin.pdf
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Dec 10, '13
    sirI, Paws2people, HappyWife77, and 6 others like this.
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  3. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 27,869 Likes: 40,230; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website

    4 Comments so far...

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    Great Article! I had the pleasure of working as a methadone clinic nurse for a short time when I was a LPN. Hours were from 5am-11am. I've had clients that were homeless to doctors, nurses and lawyers. Addiction has no respect a person. I enjoyed my job for the most part. The key is that you cannot judge ! Only for the Grace of God I go.
    tokebi, redcrossgirl, vintagemother, and 4 others like this.
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    I had an interview at a methadone clinic. It seemed like a pretty decent job. There were 5 methadone milkshake machines, each assigned to a nurse; and as a nurse, you dealt a lot with cash and had to balance your drawer in addition to measuring the volume of methadone left in the machine. The hiring manager said a lot of nurses find that aspect of the job disconcerting. It was very much like a fast food restaurant without the drive-thru. The nurses were at this facility were all exclusively LPNs, except for one NP. Average pay was approximately $15-$16/hr. In other ways, it was reminiscent of working in a jail or prison because every door and every cabinet was locked in the facility. There were tons of addiction counselors that did most of the work one on one with the patients. They were the people who really seemed to have the most contact with the pts.

    The nurses did not have to be exclusively tied to the machine and taking cash to dispense methadone. One nurse would draw blood, collect urine specimens for drug testing, and perform a sort of "admission assessment" to gauge the level of addiction. That was the part of the job that seemed really fun. Unfortunately, only one nurse out of 6 could do that job per day. The hours were pretty sweet (if you're a morning person) around 0500-1400 ish with an hour for lunch.

    I totally would have taken this job had i not been offered another, more lucrative position elsewhere. I often think back to how sweet that job could have been.
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    Ideally, methadone clinic nurses should be accountable and detail-oriented due to the meticulous record keeping involved with controlled substances. These nurses should also be supportive and empathetic toward their patients. Outstanding interpersonal skills and effective communication are necessary because the nurse will be interacting with numerous patients and other members of the interdisciplinary team during a typical shift.
    Excellent@!
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    Quote from libran1984
    I totally would have taken this job had i not been offered another, more lucrative position elsewhere. I often think back to how sweet that job could have been.
    Same here! Methadone clinic was my first job interview when I became LVN years ago. Loved the environment but I got scared away by the hours... no way I can show up at work at 4 am!


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