As a methadone patient advocate, I read again and again the many fears and misconceptions put forth by various communities facing the location of a methadone clinic. Sadly, most are based on rumors, prejudice and gross misunderstandings.

Methadone does not cure addiction, true enough. Neither does any other form of treatment, because there currently is no cure. Rather, methadone helps to stabilize the brain chemistry of long-term opiate users whose brains may no longer be able to produce natural endorphins, and may require medication to replace those absent chemicals in order to feel normal. Not high, not euphoric, just normal.

Methadone maintenance treatment also involves group and individual counseling, frequent urine testing, referrals and resources to other community agencies if needed, etc. Patients may earn take-home doses, but this occurs at a very slow rate. It takes a full year or more of perfect attendance, perfect adherence to rules, perfect urine screens and the meeting of eight criteria in order to receive one week’s worth of take-home doses.

Studies show that the vast, vast majority of methadone diverted onto the street comes not from these clinics, but rather, from pain management and the recent increase in prescribing methadone for that purpose.

Kerry Wolf, Cedar Park, Texas

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