Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Solve the problem, not create another one

I know of one clinic that supply methadone to drug addicts. What is methadone? Methadone is synthetic narcotic drug similar to morphine but less habit-forming. Methadone is used in narcotic detoxification and maintenance of heroin addiction. Now, I am not an expert in drugs and its benefits but I wonder why should a drug addict be allowed to get their medical supplies i.e. methadone if the main objective is to help them be clean. Instead of allowing the drug addicts obtain methadone legally which is what the government is doing, the government should focus more on helping them break the addictions. Now, some of them are addicted to methadone instead. Instead of solving the problem, it seems that a new problem is created without really solving the old problem. I do hope the policy makers will have a more holistic approach to solving any problems.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are misunderstanding the purpose and goals of MMT.

Most addicts who end up at methadone clinics have already tried and failed at abstinence-based treatments multiple times. The reasons vary, but for many long term opioid addicts, the problem is that by using opioid drugs they have shut down the brain's production of endorphins (our natural opiates). For some (not all) long term users. the brain never returns to producing endorphins even after years of abstinence, meetings, therapy, counseling, etc. It is a biological problem for these individuals, not a social or "spiritual" one.

When they are off all opioids, they experience extreme depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and worst of all, anhedonia--the inability to enjoy or take pleasure in anything. Endorphins regulate mood, control pain and enable us to feel pleasure--without them life is grim indeed, and this leads patients to relapse over and over again as most people cannot long tolerate this state.

Methadone stabilizes the brain chemistry without causing a high. The patient is then able to function normally, cravings are controlled, and they can be productive and functional once again. It is the most successful treatment for opioid addiction by far. In many ways, it is very similar to insulin therapy for a diabetic--the pancreas no longer makes insulin, so it must be supplemented from an outside source.

Many doctors and scientists theorize that some people are born with a dysfunctional production of endorphins, leaving them especially vulnerable to opioid addiction.

As for being "addicted" to methadone, addiction and physical dependence are two very different things. Addiction involves a set of behaviors in addition to physical dependence that are not present in complaint, stable methadone patients. Googling "addiction vs. dependece" will provide more information.

Many pts. may require long term methadone treatment, just as with other chronic diseases--diabetes, epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. The medication only stabilizes and treats the deficiency--it does not cure the brain chemistry disease.