Trading One Addiction for Another!

Trading One Addiction for Another!
Posted by FoM on December 13, 1998 at 06:40:57 PT
Will methadone really help?
Keep the heroin addicts hooked ... on methadone. That's the recommendation of a report sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association! 
Says the NIH: ''All persons dependent on opiates should have access to methadone-hydrochloride maintenance therapy under legal supervision, and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Department of Justice should take the necessary steps to implement this recommendation.'' Unfortunately, this blanket statement means that the medical establishment still finds it acceptable to send heroin addicts into methadone treatment by default. Too bad that won't help the 50-to-60 percent of heroin addicts who suffer from cross-addictions to stimuli like alcohol or cocaine. Too bad it won't address the reasons addicts turn to their poison of choice to begin with. And it's mighty convenient that the report concurs with White House drug policy - which holds that addicts should have access to methadone treatment on demand. That's one explanation for the fact that Medicaid is notoriously methadone-friendly - spending some $120 million a year on the substance to finance about 36,000 treatment slots. But to what good purpose? Wouldn't it be better for addicts to go into drug-free programs from the start? There they can end addiction altogether, rather than substitute one drug for another. In the drug-free programs, recovering addicts are 222 percent more likely to work full-time than their methadone-addicted counterparts. If drug addiction is an illness, the goal should be health, not subsequent addiction. That's why Mayor Giuliani continues to oppose methadone treatment. 
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