Pubdate: Tue, 05 Oct 2004
Source: Kingsport Times-News (TN)
Copyright: 2004 Kingsport Publishing Corporation
Author: Richard J. Skelskey
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


In response to an article Sept. 14, our mission [at Appalachian Treatment 
Services, where Mr. Skelskey is sponsor/director] is to provide 
rehabilitation and medical support services to persons addicted to opioid 
drugs. This rehabilitation consists of medication-assisted treatments as 
well as intensive counseling aimed at reducing or eliminating the use of 
illicit drugs.

Our focus is directed at the patient and family to support the individual 
in treatment. Patients are treated with dignity and respect, improving 
self-esteem and fostering a healing environment.

Commonwealth's Attorney Marcus McClung pointed to the attitude of the 
clinic's visitors stating, "Nothing matters except staying high." Patients 
who access services are seeking treatment for the disease of addiction. To 
these patients everything else, home family and children, does matter. That 
is why they seek treatment.

My associate and I have opened or operated at least eight clinics in the 
past 10 years. None of the patients was homeless, sleeping in abandoned 
buildings, under bridges or on the streets near the clinics. A clinic does 
not bring "pushers and dealers" into the area. It meets a need by treating 
individuals already in the area.

Methadone does not impair cognitive functions. It has no adverse effects on 
mental capability, intelligence or employability. It is not sedating or 
intoxicating, nor does it interfere with ordinary activities such as 
driving a car or operating machinery. Patients are able to feel pain and 
experience emotional reactions. Most importantly, methadone relieves the 
craving associated with opiate addiction. For methadone patients, typical 
street doses of heroin are ineffective at producing euphoria, making the 
use of heroin less desirable. Methadone treatment greatly reduces criminal 
behavior. The decline in predatory crimes is likely in part because 
methadone maintenance treatment patients no longer need to finance a costly 
heroin addiction or prescription drugs and because treatment allows many 
patients to stabilize their lives and return to legitimate employment. 
These facts are supported by the NIH, SAMHSA and the Office of National 
Drug Control Policy.

Richard J. Skelskey

Bristol, Va.
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