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What Do Nurses Do At A Methadone Clinic?

Methadone is a legally prescribed opioid that’s administered daily in liquid or tablet form to help drug addicts manage narcotic withdrawals. This drug is only available in methadone clinics and the beneficiaries receive their daily doses at no cost. These clinics usually hire Licensed Practice Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) who’ve specialized in substance abuse treatment.

A Day In The Life Of a Methadone Nurse

Methadone nurses are trained to execute daily tasks such as…

1. Patient Assessment

Patient assessment is an essential process that takes place before an individual is put on a methadone prescription. Nurses conduct this process to know whether the addict is or has been using other narcotics that might affect the treatment plan. Also, the patient has to undergo several tests to find out whether they contracted diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis B and C as a result of sharing contaminated hypodermic needles to get high.

Female patients also submit blood samples for screening because methadone poses a threat to pregnant women. The same case applies to women that might need methadone treatment but are also breastfeeding.

2. Scheduling Doctor Appointments For Highly Affected Patients

Some people tend to experience frequent seizures when withdrawing from powerful opiates and this poses a threat to their lives. Women can also notice an erratic menstrual cycle pattern and terrible skin rash while on methadone treatment. These side effects occur during the first couple of weeks into treatment and some patients get so overwhelmed that they decide to quit treatment.

Methadone nurses sit down with each patient and fill out daily reports that indicate any symptoms associated with the treatment. They forward these reports to doctors and help the doctor keep tabs on each patient by booking appointments in advance.

3. Providing Daily Maintenance For Methadone Pumps

Methadone is usually administered in liquid form and patients line up to receive plastic cups filled with their daily doses. The nurse tasked with pumping methadone is responsible for providing patients with clear plastic cups and ensuring that they’re properly disposed of after use to prevent accidental contamination.

The methadone pump also consists of several moving parts that require a weekly inspection to check for wear and tear. It’s important to ensure that the pump stays free from moisture to avoid rust. Methadone nurses also train student nurses on how to run and maintain the pump as well as offering supervision.

4. Keeping Stock Of Methadone Supplies In The Clinic

Methadone in itself can be abused because its opiate nature produces an intoxication that’s similar to morphine though it’s less potent in comparison. Methadone tablets are highly targeted in pharmacy burglary because they have a high demand among opiate addicts.

Methadone nurses are tasked with keeping count of the tablets before and after completing their shifts. This process helps in minimizing cases of drug diversion by medical personnel. Nurses also have to record information and verify doses of new methadone shipments that arrive at the clinic.

5. Referring Patients With Multiple Drug Addictions To Treatment Centers

It’s not unusual to come across an opiate user that’s also struggling with alcohol addiction since both drugs tend to get consumed in the same environment. The methadone nurse has to ensure that the patient is fully unshackled from the chains of substance abuse. To achieve this, they create special programs for patients with multiple substance abuse.

Methadone clinics also partner with hospitals and government-run rehabilitation centers to ensure that patients can smoothly transition from one phase of treatment to the next. Methadone nurses usually create patient reports and notify doctors in charge about the patients that require referrals to rehabilitation centers.

6. Helping Recovering Patients Get Legal Assistance For Battery and Sexual Assault

Drug addiction not only affects the body but also exposes addicts to a variety of social problems. Women in the dark alleys frequently get sexually assaulted and also experience violent attacks from people that they know. However, intimidation and lack of safety prevent such victims from alerting the police.

Methadone nurses help these victims get legal assistance by documenting medical evidence pointing to sexual assault and battery. They refer the victims to pro bono lawyers to ensure that the culprit faces the full consequences of the law.