Category Archives: Methadone News

Safety and Security With Methadone

methadone-safetyIf you are currently a client in a methadone clinic, then you have most likely heard treatment staff emphasize the importance of safety with methadone and the necessity of carefully securing take home methadone doses. Methadone is a powerful medication that is tremendously helpful to recovering individuals. It is also potentially lethal in the wrong hands and consequently must be deliberately safeguarded.

There is a recently published article on Bloomberg regarding methadone being diverted and then taken by someone who later died from an overdose. This turn of events has led to newly proposed legislation in five states (Maine, Indiana, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania) that would further tighten regulations regarding the operation of methadone clinics and their award of methadone take home medication to their clients.

The reported misuse of methadone, and associated deaths, was allegedly tied to several private, for-profit clinics that operate in these states. One of the criticisms of the private, for-profit clinics was that they are not providing "enough services". This is intended to mean that the clinics in question were not providing sufficient education & counseling support or adequate monitoring of those who receive take home methadone.

It is critically important that all methadone clinics (both private and publicly supported) implement thorough measures to educate clients on methadone safety concerns as well as institute monitoring protocols like 24 hour callbacks and random drug testing. 24 hour callbacks require take home recipients to return to their home clinic within 24 hours and to produce their methadone take home doses for count and inspection by the clinic's medical staff.

It is also important that methadone clinics only award take home medication privileges to those clients who have achieved certain progress milestones such as successive months of clean urinalysis, attendance to required counseling sessions, the absence of criminal charges, and demonstrated appropriate behaviors & attitude toward staff and peers at the clinic.

When individuals intentionally divert methadone doses or mishandle methadone through lax practices (such as leaving it sitting out in plain view), they put others at risk and ultimately undermine the delivery of methadone services in the community. In other words, the mistakes of a few can negatively affect everyone. This also erodes the community's confidence in methadone as a life-saving medical treatment.

In the end, it is the shared responsibility of all methadone clinics and their clients to insure that methadone is taken as prescribed, and safeguarded from diversion. When proper precautions are not honored, tragedies will occur. This will lead to state legislators taking matters into their own hands with additional laws & regulations that may keep worthy individuals from receiving a valuable privilege. Take home medication is so very beneficial to honest, hard-working individuals in recovery. It frees them to seek employment, hold a job, care for family, and to more easily meet many other important responsibilities in their lives.

Methadone and the Importance of Safety

safety1Methadone is so very beneficial when used properly and judiciously (as prescribed). However, in the wrong hands, methadone can lead to tragic consequences. Here is a cautionary tale.

Making the news in Gaston County, North Carolina was the recent death of a young man who was a member of his school’s football team. His name was Harry Cohen, and he was 17 years old.

Harry had played in an extraordinary football game on August 26, just days before his death. He is reported to have rushed for 241 yards and passed for 107 yards. A very impressive performance. He is also reported to have taken some hard hits in the game. His family indicated that he was sore from the highly physical contact.

While visiting with his grandmother later (who had a legitimate methadone prescription for pain management), Harry decided to take some of the medication to ease his physical pain. His mother found him the next morning in bed. He had died from a methadone overdose as a result of not having developed a tolerance to the medication.

This story reinforces how important it is that methadone (and all potentially high risk medications) be carefully safeguarded. The Gaston County article had a number of comments and opinions posted by local community members expressing their sorrow over Harry’s death. Fortunately, no one blamed “methadone”.  Most commenters emphasized the importance of treating prescription meds with caution. This is exactly the right sentiment, and a message that bears repeating over and over.

Often, children & teens assume that a medication must be “safe” if it is prescribed by a doctor and sitting out in plain view. Of course, this is not the case in many instances. It is imperative that adults think twice about securing medications, and also educate themselves on the associated safety concerns that come with various medications.

It saddens all people when something tragic like this hits a family and a community. Hopefully, we can draw from this loss an important lesson … that will help to prevent future losses.

Balanced News on Methadone Treatment Benefits

methadone-clinic-4The Kitsap Sun, a newspaper based out of Bremerton Washington, has published an article on the advantages of methadone replacement therapy in dealing with Washington State’s opioid addiction problem. The article reporter is Josh Farley, and he did a nice job of presenting the facts around methadone’s benefits.

Josh interviewed Ron Jackson, the Executive Director of Evergreen Treatment Services, an opioid treatment clinic in Seattle, Washington. In the article (and embedded video), Mr. Jackson describes how methadone treatment incorporates counseling, and is not just medication-assistance alone. The general tone of the article was fair and fact-based, and it recognized the various ways in which methadone treatment participation helps to stabilize addicted individuals’ lives. Articles of this nature are a welcome relief from the fear mongering that some media outlets resort to when referencing methadone.

For the Kitsap Sun report, several methadone clients came forward to share details of their lives & addictions, and to specifically address how utilizing methadone provides needed support in becoming free of illicit drugs. The Kitsap Sun article pointed to an increase in methadone program enrollment in recent years estimating that about 270,000 patients are presently participating in methadone maintenance nationally. Another opioid treatment advocate was quoted as saying there are approximately 1200 methadone clinics operating in the United States.

These growing numbers indicate the value of methadone treatment in America. People with opioid dependencies need interventions that are effective and life-altering. Methadone works. Thanks to the Kitsap Sun for their journalistic integrity, and for their interest in portraying opioid addiction treatment in a fair & balanced light.