Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jun 1999
Date: 06/11/1999
Source: Orlando Business Journal  (FL)
Author: Dave Michon

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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