Pubdate: Sun, 27 Dec 1998
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 1998 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Maia Szalavitz, New York, N.Y.


Richard Estrada's column on methadone is typical of the
ill-thought-out, poorly researched journalism which often
appears in coverage of drug issues.

I should know -- early in my career, I wrote a similar op-ed opposing
methadone for "New York Newsday". I thought that because methadone
didn't help me with my heroin addiction, it was useless for everyone.

Would you believe a heart transplant patient who recommended such
treatment for everyone, because "open heart surgery didn't work for
me"?  Of course not -- you would look at the research.

The research on methadone -- recently reviewed by an objective
consensus panel for the "Journal of the American Medical Association"
- -- shows that it is the most successful existing treatment for heroin

The Institute of Medicine and the Office of National Drug Control
Policy are hardly liberal, pro-drug organizations and yet they
recognize that this treatment cuts crime, drug use and HIV rates
better than any other treatment now known for heroin addicts.

Addiction is not physical dependence -- addiction is compulsive use of
a drug despite negative consequences. Methadone, like Prozac for
people with depression, has positive consequences so it is not just
"substituting on addiction for another."

We will never solve the drug problem if we believe that we will find
one simple solution for addiction.

It's a complicated problem and people need options: methadone,
drug-free treatment and self-help included.

Only by offering them can we help the largest number of

Maia Szalavitz
New York, N.Y.

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Checked-by: Rich O'Grady