Pubdate: Mon, 03 Jul 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Sally R. Weiss, M.D.


Having worked in a methadone clinic, and treated many people with
substance abuse, be it alcohol, tobacco or narcotics such as heroin,
two decades of experience demand expression. Addictions are not
curable, but they are treatable. Many people find decades of
Alcoholics Anonymous necessary to maintain sobriety; needing Narcotics
Anonymous after only one year does not deem its program

Of the three substances I mentioned, heroin is not the most difficult
to stop. Methadone is more difficult to stop than heroin, and as a
treatment for addiction it is dated; there are newer, less toxic, less
addictive treatments available.

A basic tenet for treating any addiction is personal responsibility
and the need not to abuse now. No other abused substance has this kind
of long-term treatment with a substitute Class II controlled
substance. Newer Class V controlled substances (read less dangerous)
are in widespread use in medical centers across the country.

To rush into drawing narcotics addicts to Bangor for a treatment that
is not foolproof, may well be out of date and supports the myth that
heroin addiction cannot be overcome otherwise, would be foolish as
well as potentially increase the risk to the population here today.
Heroin overdoses are not due to the lack of methadone treatment in
Maine; there is a clinic already in Winslow.

Travel for treatment is very common; one need only look at how many
veterans travel to Togus and-or Boston for treatment. Should heroin
addicts have more convenient treatment than our veterans? Should
heroin addicts have the myth of untreatability reinforced? I hope not.

Sally R. Weiss, M.D.

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