Pubdate: Wed, 07 Mar 2001
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Contact:  +61 8 94823830
Author: Tamara Speed and staff


DR GEORGE O'NEIL'S call (Letters, 3/3) for colleagues critical of
naltrexone to remain silent is, we believe, unhelpful to informed
public debate on the drug and the treatment practices associated with

Silence has, and will continue to have, a human cost. For every
publicly touted success story supporting naltrexone programs, there is
an equivalent private story of distress. These stories are held in
confidence with reputable medical practitioners and drug and alcohol
agencies around the State.

Unfortunately, heroin's illegal status and the consequent personal
risk to those who admit to its use outside a therapeutic setting act
as a barrier to the use of medical complaints processes open to all
health consumers. Users and their families need to be assured about
the safety of private information and that their rights will be upheld
if they complain.

Despite the drug and alcohol sector's efforts to ensure best practice
and accountability, some treatment providers still appear to operate
outside its boundaries. The recent challenge to perceptions of
naltrexone as a cure is to be applauded, not silenced. Until the
Government and the community hear the voices of all concerned with
this issue, we believe further public funding cannot be justified.

TAMARA SPEED and staff, Western Australian Substance Users'
Association, Northbridge.
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