Pubdate: Tue, 09 Mar 2004
Source: Charleston Gazette (WV)
Copyright: 2004 Charleston Gazette
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Methadone)



The problem with granting police access to patient records in methadone
clinics is that many of the patients trying to clean up their lives have a
history of illicit drug use. Police access would discourage rehabilitation.
Would alcoholics seek help if doing so were tantamount to confessing to
criminal activity?

Methadone has been shown to reduce drug use and related crime, death and
disease among chronic heroin addicts. It's also a viable treatment for
OxyContin addiction. Contrary to popular opinion, methadone staves off
debilitating withdrawal symptoms, but does not produce a high that prevents
patients from living productive lives. The tough-on-drugs alternative is a
very real threat to public safety.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant
increase the profitability of trafficking. For addictive drugs like heroin,
a spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal
activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it
fuels crime. Unfortunately, tough-on-drugs politicians have built careers on
confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with drugs themselves.

When politics trumps science, people die. Centers for Disease Control
researchers estimate that 57 percent of AIDS cases among women and 36
percent of overall AIDS cases in the United States are linked to
injection-drug use or sex with partners who inject drugs.

This easily preventable public-health crisis is a direct result of
zero-tolerance laws that restrict access to clean syringes. Drug abuse is
bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe

Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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