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[ Opinion ]

METHADONE: The Silent Killer in a Greedy Industry

Let me start out by stating that my opinions on this issue are strictly anecdotal in nature. They come from my observations during my tenure in the industry of addiction.

Methadone is part of the whole harm reduction movement that has gained a foothold in government run addiction treatment centres and for many in the medical profession. Harm reductionists (as I refer to them) contend that it is better to have a person reduce her intake of a drug and/or switch to another type to reduce harm to herself. I contend that if harm reductionists were honest the reduce in harm they are talking about is to society as a whole. By switching a person from heroin to methadone the person will not be stealing from society to pay for their opiates. By having a clean needle exchange addicts will not be leaving dirty needles for the general public to stumble over. This is all well and good but let us not kid ourselves into believing that it is for the good of the addict. The addict is still using and still dependent on a substance. The addict is still changing his goals to meet his behaviours rather than changing his behaviours to meet his goals.

When I entered recovery and lost the obession over drugs and alcohol I gained the freedom to make my own decisions. I was no longer obsessed with self-medicating to deal with life on life’s terms. I changed my behaviours so that I could recover from a deadly disease. Recover I did. Now I am able to make decisions and face the consequences of those decisions. The person who is practising harm reduction has no freedom from a substance and will forever be tied to it as long as they are not practicing abstinence.

Let’s take a look at methadone. Methadone is a drug that opiate addicts take instead of heroin, Oxycontin, etc. It provides her body with what the drug she was using did without harming it any further. This form of harm reduction has grown into a huge money making industry for the medical and pharmaceutical communities. As an addictions counsellor, who works in an abstinent based facility, I find we are continuously at odds with these communities in weaning people off of methadone and into a true recovery. These so called medical pracitioners who prescribe methadone tend to make it extremely difficult for a person who wants to wean off the substance from doing so. They will give little to no cooperation with the patient or the facility trying to help the patient.

One of the main contentions that harm reductionists make is that this policy is what the patient wants AKA client-centrered. To me this is the most backward type of thinking there is. If I am sick I go to my phsycian to see his professinal opinion on how to treat the illness. I don’t tell him what I want to be done. I am not the expert. When someone seeks professional help in dealing with an addiction she doesn’t know the way to deal with it so why would we ask her what she wants to do. Saying this the harm reductionists who practise this type of client-centered therapy are being hypocritical when they refuse to help a patient who wants to get off of methadone The only reason I can see for this lack of help in improving a person’s life is that if the person gets better than the pocket book of that physician will get smaller.

Just my humble opinion.