Pubdate: Mon, 29 Dec 2003
Source: Birmingham News, The (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Birmingham News
Author: Bill Garrett


A recent letter writer argued that the treatment that worked in his
recovery is appropriate for other opiate addicts and that methadone
treatment denies them "true recovery, keeping them in a helpless state
of mind."

This one-size-fits-all mentality contradicts the fact that people have
varying benefits from similar treatments for any disease. For opiate
addiction, there is no single treatment that works best for everyone.

The writer holds that methadone treatment is "replacing one drug for
another." By this reasoning, a person "self-medicating" with alcohol
for depression should not take antidepressant medications, but should
just quit the booze and buck up.

Opiate addiction is a chronic, recurring brain disease for which
methadone is currently the most effective treatment. This view is
supported by addiction-treatment experts based on 30 years of research.

The public health benefits are well-documented. It has been shown to
reduce HIV sero-conversion, reduce criminality and increase

As a result, federal legislation was passed in 2000 to facilitate
access to methadone treatment. That legislation also required
methadone clinics to demonstrate adherence to a standard of care
through accreditation by the same agencies that judge hospitals and
rehabilitation facilities.

A licensed counselor should not let his bias rule out an effective
treatment that offers a proven benefit to both the addict and the community.

Bill Garrett

Program manager

UAB Methadone Clinic
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