NIH , Drug Policy Office Call for more Methadone!

NIH , Drug Policy Office Call for more Methadone!
Posted by FoM on December 09, 1998 at 11:49:46 PT
We desperately need compassion in this drug war!
 The administration's push to expand the use of Methadone treatment is getting a boost from a panel of scientists who say the synthetic narcotic helps decrease drug use and criminal activity among heroin addicts. 
The 12 scientists convened by the National Institutes of Health acknowledge that methadone is not a panacea for substance abuse. But in a report published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the panel finds that heroin addiction is a treatable disease and urges the government to expand the availability of methadone programs. "The primary conclusion of the panel ... is that opiate addictions are brain and medical orders that, indeed, can be treated effectively," said Dr. Lewis L. Judd, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Judd chaired the NIH panel. Methadone, first used widely some 30 years ago, is a narcotic that blunts heroin addicts' craving for the street drug and eases the painful symptoms of heroin withdrawal. It has some of the same physiological effects on the brain as heroin, but without the "high" that addicts crave. Addicts generally drink daily doses of the liquid narcotic, which take several hours to work. More freedom from 'slavery of heroin addiction'The recommendation comes as the White House's drug policy office seeks to boost money for methadone programs in next year's budget and is working with other agencies to change the system for licensing clinics. "Clearly, many more people could be freed from the slavery of heroin addiction if this proven therapy were more widely available," said Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The White House hopes that by spring it will have a consensus on how to increase the availability of treatment -- for example, by offering an accreditation program for clinics -- so it can push for legislation in Congress by fall. But some elected officials, including New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have denounced methadone, saying the treatment simply substitutes one addiction for another. According to the Lindesmith Center, a New York-based drug policy research institute, methadone is illegal in New Hampshire and not available in seven other states: Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. "I think that morally, philosophically and practically it's a bad question for America to say, `Let's double the number of people on Methadone.' Let's try to make America drug-free," Giuliani said in September. Drug free America has been tried and it hasn't worked!Methadone users more productive, less drug-dependentThe scientists say that while abstinence would be ideal, methadone enables addicts to lead productive lives, if coupled with counseling and stable work. "Although a drug-free state represents an optimal treatment goal, research has demonstrated that this goal cannot be achieved or sustained by the majority of persons dependent on opiates," the panel says. An estimated 810,000 chronic heroin users live in the United States, but only about 115,000 receive Methadone. The scientists point to evidence that methadone treatment can lead to decreased drug use and less criminal activity. They report the average death rate for heroin addicts receiving methadone was 30 percent of those not in treatment programs. It's time that we start treating our Nations Drug Problem with Compassion!
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