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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

All are welcome at START. We accept self-referrals as well as referrals from community agencies such as shelters, courts, and rehab/detox centers. To enroll in one of our programs, please either call 800-211-0996 or visit one of our clinics during the hours of operation.

For persons who may be seeking information regarding possible admission to any of START's programs, the following documents are required:

·         Picture ID

·         Social Security Card 

·         Proof of Address

·         Insurance Information (Medicaid, Medicare, Managed Care Provider ID, Other types of Insurance).

Click here for Insurance & Billing Information.

What are the characteristics of opioid use disorder?

Addiction is a long-term disease of brain reward, motivation, and memory.  It leads to changes in a person’s body, behavior, thoughts, and feelings.  Addiction is characterized by a person not being able to stop using, impairment in behavioral control, craving, and not realizing that using is a problem. Opioid misuse can cause initial feelings of euphoria, pain relief, and calming, which become more elusive as a person builds up tolerance.  Social and behavioral characteristics arise as a result of changes to the brain chemistry of a person suffering from opioid use disorder. These can include inattention to daily responsibilities and needs, changes in activities, self-image and relationships, general deterioration of hygiene, isolation from most non-dependent friends, associates, and family, and general instability in daily living. The physical consequences can include drug overdose, extreme deterioration of overall health, and a high risk for infections, such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted infections, and tuberculosis.


Why seek treatment?

The impetus to seek treatment and recovery may be exhaustion and 'burnout' from a harsh and demanding lifestyle or it may arise from fear of the dangers of street life or serious illness.  The catalyst may come from family, friends, employers, or the legal system, or it can be the result of unsuccessful attempts to stop using without professional help. Opioid-dependent individuals may seek professional help to find support for change, to handle life stress, to break unhealthy connections, to regain a sense of stability, and to repair health and social problems.  Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction gets worse, and can result in disability or premature death. 

What is methadone?

Methadone is a long-acting, synthetic opiate that is administered orally. When taken as prescribed and at the proper dosage, methadone blocks the effects of illicit opioid use and will decrease opioid craving. Patients who are stabilized on appropriate dosages of methadone will function normally. Benefits of treatment include:

  • reduction in high-risk behaviors that can cause the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STDs

  • decreased use of heroin and other opiates

  • lower rates of death and criminal activity compared to people living with substance use disorder who do not receive treatment

  • providing a major stabilizing force for those addicted and their families

  • cost-effective care for patients and our communities

How does methadone treatment work?

Methadone treatment programs are staffed by professionals with extensive medical, behavioral, and administrative expertise. Patients receive individually prescribed medication from a licensed and certified medical staff member, meet with a primary counselor and attend group counseling sessions, while also accessing medical and social services.

Who is eligible for treatment?

Admission is open to anyone who is/was addicted to heroin or any other opiate for at least two years if between the ages of 18-21, or for at least one year if over 21. The clinic provides services to adults over 18 years (and, in some cases, 17 year olds) who are diagnosed with opiate use disorder.  Our REACH and outpatient detoxification programs have slightly different admission criteria so contact us for more information. Applicants whose medical or psychiatric needs are beyond the scope of what we offer are referred to a more appropriate program.

Is methadone treatment medically safe?

Methadone treatment has been the most widely studied approach to opiate addiction and has been used effectively for over 50 years. Research and clinical studies have proven the unequivocal medical safety of long-term methadone treatment.

When taken as prescribed, long-term administration of methadone causes NO adverse effects to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, bones, brain or other vital body organs. The myth that methadone is physically harmful has been shown scientifically to be unfounded.

Patients with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes, pneumonia, cardiac conditions, cancers, psychiatric disorders, etc., can usually be treated effectively. With proper stabilization, sexual function normalizes for both men and women and women can conceive and have normal pregnancies and deliveries. Because methadone crosses the placental barrier, babies born to those receiving treatment may at first be physically dependent on methadone and need to be weaned.

Does methadone treatment impair mental function?

There are no adverse effects on mental capacity or employability with methadone. Our patients are lawyers, engineers, secretaries, truck or taxi drivers, roofers, gardeners, teachers, salespersons, architects, computer programmers, etc.

What other medications may be useful in the treatment of opiate addiction?

Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) was approved in 2002 by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence and qualified under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 for private, office-based treatment and medication-assisted programs.


What is naltrexone?

Naltrexone, a non-addicting, long-acting narcotic was approved by the FDA in 1985 for the treatment of opioid dependence. A single injection can be effective up to a month depending on dosage level and blocks the euphoric effects of heroin and other opiates.

How are methadone treatment programs regulated and monitored?

Methadone treatment is the most monitored and regulated medical treatment in the US. Federal and state regulatory agencies monitor treatment programs through on-site program reviews and certification by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and accreditation by the international non-profit organization CARF. Programs receive their narcotic license from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

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