Monthly Archives: March 2011

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.

Methadone Treatment Clients Aim For Better Lives

methadone-recoveryI just read a news article about a proposed methadone clinic that is being met with community resistance, this time in Dade County, Georgia. The county is located in the northwestern tip of the state, and would provide treatment to people living in north Georgia, southern Tennessee, and northeastern Alabama.

Somewhat disturbing were several comments by readers of the article in which the proposed clinic was forecasted to be harmful to the community. One person wrote that clinics “do not help people”, and another writer stated that the clinic “would bring more unsavory characters into the county.”

A second article on the Dade County clinic, with an accompanying news video, showed an interview with a local store manager in a neighboring county. This store manager is located across the street from an existing methadone clinic. In the interview, the man said “Keep you eyes open and your ears open and watch out for people … because that (methadone) is some bad stuff.” The TV interviewer then asked the man had he observed any problems related to the clinic’s operation and he responded “I’ve not noticed any real bad things or anything happening around here.” He then goes on to say later in the interview “They’re (methadone clients) not causing any trouble.”

The TV interviewer for News Channel 9 also added that a number of local people she had interviewed for the piece (who did not want to appear on camera) confirmed that the clinic “had not had a negative impact on the area.”

This exemplifies the irrational fear & unjustified public condemnation of methadone that is often the norm in small communities. The reality is that the store owner referenced above had not seen anything troubling (per his own account), and the others interviewed said the clinic had brought no negative impact to the area. Think about that.

These community members, many of whom are obviously harboring unwarranted fears and suspicions, would most likely change their opinion of methadone clinics & methadone clients if they could simply meet them. The condemnation of those we do not know is an age-old problem, as are hate, harsh judgment, and fear of the unknown.

Discrimination is something that Americans have faced before. Discrimination against addicted people seeking help is sort of odd logic. Most people seem to believe that addiction is something far away and removed from their communities and their lives. But it isn’t.

Importantly, methadone maintenance blocks the effects of other opiates, stops withdrawal sickness, helps addicted people feel better emotionally, and allows them to go to work, raise their families, pay their mortgage, and become productive again. That clinic across the street is not a drug haven. It is a place where people, with good intentions and genuine hope, begin to reclaim their lives. They’re willing to step onto a new path leading to a drug free life. Is this really so terrible?

Texas Methadone and Opioid Treatment Programs

texas-methadoneTexas is America’s second largest state by size and second in total population figures with just over 25 million people. Adding to Texas’ impressive statistics is the fact that Texas has five of the country’s top 20 largest cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth.

The U.S. database of opioid treatment clinics currently lists 81 separate methadone clinics in operation throughout Texas. Many of these methadone program clinics also offer suboxone. This number does not include the individual suboxone-approved physicians in private practice. That number is many times larger. For example, there are 132 suboxone doctors in Houston alone. These numbers offer some indication of the magnitude of America’s opioid abuse problem as well as the ever increasing availability of treatment professionals ready to help.

The diversity of opioid treatment programs is somewhat revealing too with many being private clinics, and others being state-funded or affiliated with area mental health centers or general substance abuse programs. More clinics are based out of the (VA) Veterans Administration Hospital system while some are supported through the research or medical school division of the State University system.

Opioid addiction is a subject of considerable interest to addiction researchers as well as private pharmaceutical companies. That addiction is recognized as a legitimate medical condition lends serious examination, and commitment, to discovering causes of addiction as well as potential treatments.

Texas is a state that has a very well-developed medical research network and general above-average health care delivery system. These characteristics can only help to advance opioid addiction treatment, either directly or indirectly, and perhaps lead more people into medication-assisted addiction recovery.

To browse the Methadone.US Texas page, visit: Texas Methadone Clinics

Prescription Monitoring Helps Suboxone and Methadone Treatment

methadone40Dr. Jana Burson, in her opioid treatment blog, has written two important and interesting entries on the value of prescription monitoring programs (entry 1, entry 2). Prescription monitoring allows approved physicians to review a database listing controlled substances a patient receives (like opioids or benzodiazepines), the prescribing physician, and the pharmacy that filled the prescription.

This information is extremely useful for monitoring patient behavior in opioid treatment and helping to provide a measure of patient accountability. Some patients have a pattern of doctor shopping and abusing prescription medications even after entering opioid treatment. This monitoring program allows doctors to identify doctor shopping activities and to intervene with their patients who may be abusing prescription meds or selling them.

Dr. Burson writes that 42 states have approved a prescription monitoring program, and a majority of them already have the program up and running in their state. One notable exception is the state of Florida. Dr. Burson writes that Florida’s Governor Scott has blocked the implementation of the prescription monitoring program. This is detrimental to identifying & managing prescription abuses across the state. It is reported that Governor Scott has been contacted by other State Governors urging him to reconsider.

Methadone and suboxone treatment programs aim to help their clients change their lifestyle & behavior, and to make choices rooted in healthy recovery. Prescription monitoring enables treatment professionals to assist their clients in examining negative behaviors and correcting them.

Some individuals who doctor shop find themselves in legal trouble and facing possible incarceration. This can derail a client’s opioid treatment, as well as compromise the integrity and reputation of the methadone treatment program trying to serve addicted people. It is much better to identify prescription abuses early on and to intervene quickly.

Prescription monitoring programs are ideal for the safety and security of clients and the welfare of communities. The over-prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines has become a major problem in the United States, and prescription monitoring is a huge forward step in rectifying this troubling issue.

The Future of Methadone Treatment

methadonefutureThe total number of U.S. private and publicly funded methadone clinics has risen substantially just in the last few years. Moreover, opioid addiction treatment is receiving increased attention across the country as organizations like SAMHSA, NIDA, ASAM, and CARF become familiar acronyms to everyone working in the addiction treatment field.

We now have various suboxone formulations with increased availability, in addition to methadone, and new products aimed at treating opioid addiction are being researched and periodically released (such as Vivitrol). A generic version of suboxone is said to be on the horizon too thus becoming a more accessible & affordable option for many. The message is out that opioid addiction is a disease which can be successfully treated & managed using a combination of medication and behavioral health counseling approaches.

Methadone programs received a quality boost in 1999 when the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services identified methadone as a useful “clinical tool” in the treatment of opioid dependency. Provisions were then drafted & implemented which required all methadone programs to become independently accredited in order to establish a clinical standard of care.

Leading medical and educational institutions, such as Duke University, have committed to researching effective addiction treatments and are consequently advancing our knowledge of ways to deal with addictive disease. Organizations like are bringing relevant news to America on a daily basis in regard to addiction problems and solutions.

If the last 20 years are any indication, then the future of opioid addiction treatment will only improve. What used to be regarded as a “heroin only” isolated problem contained in the big cities, is in reality a fairly widespread problem affecting many everyday families in every American town regardless of its size.

The good new is that people all around the country are getting well. They have tools available for coping with addiction. The power of the internet is helping people tap into useful addiction recovery resources. The future brings continued promise, and many possibilities.