Pubdate: Thu, 11 June 1999
Source: Orlando Business Journal  (FL)
Copyright: American City Business Journals Inc
Bookmark: (Methadone)


RE: "Treatment goes unfunded" and "How to save a heroin addict"; May 
28-June 3 edition of Orlando Business Journal

Methadone has been used successfully for over 30 years to treat heroin 
addiction in the United States. Almost 180,000 people are keeping their 
lives and their sanity with this proven life-saver. It's not just 
down-and-out street junkies that methadone helps, as some circles would 
like you to think, it is people from right across the spectrum of American 
life: Doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. all have been saved from a fate 
worse than death by methadone maintenance treatment.

Incredibly, the treatment has come under attack. Volatile New York Mayor 
Rudy Giuliani came out against methadone this winter and quickly had to 
admit he was wrong when the overdoses started again.

Now Arizona Republican Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain has 
introduced Senate Bill 423, "The Addiction-Free Treatment Act," which would 
cut funding for methadone at the federal level and impose even more onerous 
restrictive regulations than those under which the clinics must now labor. 
Obviously the Republican strategists have done some political algebra and 
come up with methadone treatment as a scapegoat and stalking horse. McCain 
holds that methadone is somehow "immoral" and "Orwellian" because it 
emphasizes a medication in treatment instead of the "Higher Power" to which 
he obviously thinks he has exclusive access.

The methadone regulations are "in play" in Washington. Drug Czar Gen. Barry 
McCaffrey is in favor of loosening the tremendous restrictions currently 
keeping methadone from those whose lives it would save and letting family 
physicians prescribe the medication to help heroin addicts where they are 
found today: in every community. We must hope the general wins this battle; 
more lives depend upon it than any of his military campaigns.

Heroin currently is flooding America. We must not allow those who now are 
scrambling to cover their previous positions as Drug Hawks to demagogue 
methadone for their own purposes while leaving America to grieve at 
overdose funerals.

Dave Michon, Director of communications, National Alliance of Methadone 
Advocates, Spooner, Wis.
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