Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 1998
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Contact:  Dr David Helliwell, Nimbin


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 Fraser.

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 trial.

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

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 treatment?

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 Nimbin

- ---
Checked-by: Rolf Ernst