Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 1999 USA TODAY
Section: NEWS Page 14A
Pubdate: Tues, 2 Feb 1999
Author: Joycelyn Woods, (exec. vice president 
National Alliance of Methadone Advocates New York, N.Y.)


The National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA) applauds the strong
stand taken by Barry R. McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug
Control Policy, supporting methadone maintenance as an effective treatment
for heroin addiction (''Heroin access spurs need for methadone,'' The
Forum, Jan. 25). Unlike New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who uses public
misunderstanding about heroin addiction and methadone-maintenance treatment
to gain political favor, McCaffrey has evaluated the facts and made an
objective and unbiased conclusion. Methadone treatment saves lives.

A criminal justice approach has not been effective in controlling heroin
use in this country. Putting addicts in prison does not treat or control

If we are to restrain the growing increase in heroin use among the youth of
America, it is imperative that the public and policy makers understand that
a rational public health approach must be taken. Otherwise we will have
doomed our youth and their families to imprisonment, death, disease and

Since its beginning more than 30 years ago, methadone maintenance has been
demonstrated many times to be the most effective treatment for heroin

In spite of its success, methadone often is disparaged as a ''substitute
drug'' by those who ignore the positive benefits it clearly has brought to

Because of such attitudes, methadone patients are treated as social
outcasts. This will not change as long as there is no organization or
formal mechanism for methadone patients to voice their concerns.

NAMA will work toward the day when methadone patients are judged not by the
medication they take, but by the contributions they make to their families
and their communities.

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