Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 2004
Source: Johnson City Press (TN)
Copyright: 2004 Johnson City Press and Associated Press
Author: Mett Ausley Jr., M.D.


EDITOR: If legislators Jerome Cochran and Rusty Crowe believe TennCare 
shouldn't pay for methadone treatment, they should be expected to provide 
good reasons, such as evidence that methadone treatment for addiction is 
medically unsound or not cost-effective (Lawmakers want to stop payments 
for methadone, March 9).

Their work's cut out for them: The benefits of methadone substitution are 
validated by decades of clinical experience and numerous published research 
studies. While acknowledging it isn't a panacea, the National Institutes of 
Health and the American Society of Addiction Medicine each have issued 
consensus statements endorsing methadone treatment.

Accordingly, Cochran's and Crowe's conspicuous omission of evidence makes 
one wonder if they even care about methadone and are merely posturing for 
political gain. Drug abuse issues, methadone particularly, attract 
opportunists and demagogues like carrion draws flies and buzzards. These 
solons seem to appreciate how rhetoric such as "reimbursing people for drug 
habits," or "methadone's just trading one addiction for another" resonates 
with the sort of folks who consider any malady curable by dancing about 
with live rattlesnakes in hand. Such voters are plentiful, don't ask too 
many questions and can easily be gotten to the polls in a suitable state of 

I'm unaware of any civilization that collapsed from rampant substance 
abuse, but history books are full of extinct nations that allowed their 
leadership to become irresponsible and self-serving. What's seen here bodes 
ill for our future.

METT AUSLEY JR., M.D. Lake Waccamaw, N.C.
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