Pubdate: Mon, 02 Sep 2002
Source: Bristol Herald Courier (VA)
Copyright: 2002 Bristol Herald Courier
Author: Dwight Sullins
Bookmark: (Methadone)

To the editor:

"Methadone: curse or cure?" I wonder how the answer would change if 
everyone asked this question had a loved one affected by opiate addiction. 
If everyone's son, daughter, mother, father, etc. had fought painful, 
everlasting addiction and self-turmoil with no light at the end. Or what if 
someone they knew had entered many treatment facilities thinking this one 
would help only to be back on pills within weeks after their release? Then, 
after years of pain and after everything has been lost, their home, their 
job and all their finances, they make the decision to give methadone a try. 
Suddenly they have been off the street for months, they have a job, money 
and most of all they have a new start.

Methadone treatment is a huge step and a last resort for most patients. 
Methadone does more than keep you from going into withdrawal; it gives you 
hope and a purpose. So far the only obstacle I have had to cross as a 
patient is the lack of compassion and knowledge of the general public.

Many people complain about crime, in and around the area of methadone 
clinic. My reply is that if most addicts are like myself, they would 
purchase illegal narcotics at least twice daily. Multiply that by the 350 
recovering addicts at Galax alone and you have 700 felonies not being 
committed in one day. Crime obviously does drop. As for people lining up at 
4 a.m. in the morning, it is not for a fix but for people just like you, 
doing what they must to arrive at work on time. I see this not as a problem 
but as a testament of the commitment we have in helping ourselves.

I would like to comment on Mrs. Poff's statement in Aug. 18's article, 
which inspired me to offfer a different point of view about methadone 
clinics. Mrs. Poff stated, "Early in the morning we hear them. They come up 
here just zooming. We don't get any sleep hardly, it's just zoom, zoom, 
zoom." It is my observation that regardless of the business being run, 
there will be traffic, and where there is traffic, there will be traffic 
violators. Just look around the parking lot the next time you go to your 
local grocery store. Not only will you see speeders, but you will also have 
to dodge them.

For the most part, the people I have met in the Tazewell clinic are 
committed to recovery; of course, there will always be one somewhere who 
takes advantge of the system. Just look at welfare, unemployment or 
disability. All I ask is that before you pass judgment, think about what I 
have written. My mother never expected me to be a drug addict, and neither 
did I. But methadone has saved my life exactly the way Prozac or Paxil may 
have saved yours.

In a perfect world, there would be no drug addicts, no heroin, no 
OxyContin, but perfect we are not. So we must rely on education, as well as 
drug treatment, and methadone maintenance is just that. Not a curse but a cure.

Dwight Sullins, Abingdon, Va.
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