Methadone has been in the press a lot recently. Salem, Massachusetts recently rejected the opening of a methadone treatment center in one of its neighborhoods, citing concerns about traffic and parking, as well as the usual “I am worried about the effects of junkies in my neighborhood”.
Other press has addressed the efficacy of methadone detox as a form of treatment for opiate addiction. (http://dampfang.com/addiction-recovery-in-indianapolis/methadone-detox-for-heroin-users-what-is-the-best-method-for-heroin-detox)
One of the most important uses of methadone, in addition to its use as part of a detoxification protocol is as part of a harm reduction program, (http://harm.live.radicaldesigns.org/section.php?id=62 with methadone utilized as a maintenance drug.)
Methadone maintenance is useful for addicts who have tried detox numerous times but have been unsuccessful in maintaining sobriety. The maintenance approach can result in:
1. improved quality of life for the addict and family
2. return of the addict to the work force as a productive participant
3. return of the addict to the role of taxpayer
4. decreased illegal activities as the addict no longer needs to engage in illegal activities to obtain funds to buy drugs
5. increased health of the addict, primarily through discontinuation of use of potentially “dirty” needles that can result in Hepatitis C and HIV infections.
A well-run methadone maintenance program is very intensively structured. It includes case management, group treatment, and individual treatment as necessary in addition to very closely monitored dosing and rules for behavior when the addict is on-site at the treatment center.
Dosages are provided in liquid form so that recipients cannot “cheek” their meds in pill form and sell them later. A staff member monitors the parking lot to ensure that no one is selling their medications or otherwise dealing drugs outside the treatment center. Clients are regularly drug tested to ensure that they are using only prescribed medications.
The methadone maintenance program is a vital link in the continuum of services a comprehensive treatment system can offer. The end result of a well–run program of this type is improved lives of the individuals participating and ultimately a positive contribution to the communities in which they live.