Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 1998
Date: 11/24/1998
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Author: Dr. David Helliwell

WHERE are they now? Last year the Northern Rivers Health Service's
Drug and Alcohol Services were urged by some people in our community
to "fast track" Ultra Rapid Opiod Detoxification (UROD) using naltrexone.

They included North Coast National Party MPs Bill Rixon and Andrew

We also heard similar demands from politicians, radio talkback hosts
and newspaper columnists all over Australia, all of whom seemed fairly
fixated on abstinence-based treatments.

Accompanying these calls were remarks and innuendoes that those of us
who worked in the field and advised caution had a vested interest in
preventing this treatment being available, for our own financial and
academic benefit, and to the detriment of our patients.

Naltrexone and UROD has now undergone initial evaluation in
multicentre trials around Australia,

The results showed that about one-third of the patients undergoing
this treatment had relasped to heroin use in the first 18 weeks of the

This figure is remarkably similar to the relapse rate seen with
conventional inpatient detoxification.  This has now been extensively
reported in the media.

Where are these "drug warriors" who seemed so keen to help people with
heroin addiction?

Could it be that their vocal demands for this treatment on the North
Coast and elsewhere in Australia were driven more by their personal
ideologies and political opportunism, rather than by compassion for
heroin-dependent individuals and desire to provide them with effective

Have they now decided that these desperate souls shouldn't have
treatment because those that work don't suit their personal
philosophies and agendas?

I hope this is not the case.  Of course, if they were to publicly
reaffirm their commitment to scientifically proven treatments, such as
methadone maintenance therapy and some of the newer treatments of
similar effectiveness, we would know this not to be the case.

To you all, show us that you are the decent caring people I am sure
you are by showing you support for treatments that work.

Dr. David Helliwell,