Pubdate: Thu, 13 Apr 2000
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Sacramento Bee
Contact:  P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento CA 95852
Author: Anne M. Peterson
Bookmark: MAP's link to California articles is:


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- While part of the key to treating heroin addiction is
methadone, more needs to be done in terms of funding, prevention and
removing the stigma associated with drug abuse, White House drug czar Barry
McCaffrey said.

Speaking at the American Methadone Treatment Association's National
conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, McCaffrey said addicts need to be
treated as any other patients afflicted with disease.

"It is clear to me that there has to be a package, a system, in the
treatment of opiate addiction -- and methadone is an important part of it,"
said McCaffrey.

An estimated one million people nationwide are chronic opiate addicts --
primarily to heroin -- but only about 179,000 are in treatment, he said.

Implementation of a national drug policy that addresses heroin addiction in
a more mainstream way won't be easy, McCaffrey acknowledges.

Communities across the country have routinely fought methadone clinics in
their neighborhoods, claiming they bring with them crime and blight. In
Antioch, a federal judge ruled last month that civil rights law allows a
methadone clinic to move into a residential neighborhood despite the city's
claim that it would be unsafe.

Methadone is a synthetic prescription drug that blunts craving for heroin
and eases withdrawal symptoms. Many researchers believe it is the best hope
for heroin addicts, allowing them to hold down jobs and contribute to

Methadone is addictive, but only provides a high for the first month or so
of use. Addicts drink daily doses of the liquid narcotic.

A report released late last year by a panel of scientists convened by the
National Institutes of Health says heroin abuse is a treatable disease and
urges the expansion of methadone programs.

McCaffrey said more resources need to be put behind federal programs.

He made the following suggestions:

- --Underserved populations such as rural communities and mothers should be
better served.

- --Programs should provide better access to proven treatments, including

- --Insurance companies should do more to treat drug abuse.

"We simply have got to mainstream this whole process," he said.

More needs to be done at the state level, too, he said. Eight states do not
offer methadone treatment: Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire,
North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control
Policy, said those states need to reconsider.

In response to a question posed by a conference attendee from Vermont,
McCaffrey singled out Vermont's Gov. Howard Dean, who has said he fears the
legalization of methadone will bring heroin addicts to his state.

"Oh by the way, governor, heroin abuse is in the state of Vermont," he

Dean said today that McCaffrey should mind his own business.

"General McCaffrey needs a crash course on what goes on in Vermont," Dean

Vermont is taking another approach to treating heroin addiction, Dean said.
The University of Vermont is conducting an experimental heroin treatment
program using another drug that lasts longer between doses.

"The record on the country as a whole is pretty dismal," Dean said. "I
think he ought to allow us to have our debate without unnecessary outside
- ---
MAP posted-by: Eric Ernst