Pubdate: Mon, 14 Oct 2002
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2002 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Bookmark: (Heroin Maintenance)


A Cumberland County Grand Jury did the right thing last week when it 
indicted Scott Darling for manslaughter in the death of his friend. Darling 
was a narcotics addict in a methadone maintenance program, and shared a 
take-home dose of his medication with Seth Jordan, who later died of acute 
methadone poisoning.

If the charges are true, by providing a lethal dose of drugs, Darling 
caused Jordan's death, just as sure as if he had been a drunken driver or a 
reckless shooter. The authorities have taken the correct position in not 
just blaming Jordan for the mistake that caused his death. "I hope this 
sends out a message that you can be held responsible for someone's death in 
this type of situation," said Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie 
Anderson. "I hope people begin to realize that by providing drugs, they 
can't wash their hands of it if that person dies."

While it is right to hold Darling responsible for Jordan's death, the case 
raises more questions about the wisdom of allowing narcotics addicts in 
recovery to take home doses of the powerful drug. A disproportionate number 
of the overdose deaths in greater Portland this year have come from 
methadone, and the people who die are rarely those whose name is on the 
bottle. The risks may not be apparent: Seth Jordan died from drinking a 
dose that would have only held off withdrawal symptoms for Darling.

Since methadone is only available at a small number of clinics, patients 
around the state find it inconvenient to show up at one every day. So far 
the solution - providing take-home doses - is clearly not working. Allowing 
daily methadone to be distributed at doctors offices, health clinics and 
hospitals would be a less risky and equally effective route toward 
addressing the same problem.
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