Thursday, September 15, 2005

U.S. Prisons - Evidence-Based Medicine is Irrelevant!

A paper on "attitudes and practices regarding the use of methadone in US state and federal prisons" (J of Urb Health vol 82, #3)reports on a nationwide survey finding that 48% of responding prisons in the US use methadone - "predominantly for pregnant inmates of for short-term detoxification." Compounding their
refusal to provide treatment to inmates is the overwhelming failure to refer to methadone programs when drug-dependent inmates are released; only 8% did so. What a terrible tragedy! Anyone have ideas on how to get the prison system to acknowledge and employ
treatment that works?


At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to know what I can do to further the cause of MMT education among the medical, law making and law enforcement communities. I am 50 years old and have been on methadone for half of my life now. I have a college education and have been continuously employed the whole time. I currently have a 6 figure income. While in college I had been jailed for obtaining narcotics with illegal prescriptions. I had tried many times, unsuccessfully, to get on a methadone program but was turned down because I was not addicted to heroin. They claimed I was a "poly" drug user and not eligible....I was hopelessly addicted to narcotics and was simply amazed that the doctor did not consider me a candidate for MMT because the I was addicted to a pharmaceutical narcotic instead of I continued to obtain tussionex by calling in prescriptions impersonating a doctor. I was so successful at it that I did it almost daily over a 3 year period before I was arrested. I ended up with having to take either 6 ounces or 36 pills per day just to be able to attend school and work...and that just kept me from getting sick, I no longer got high on it. I must have done it 8 or 9 hundred..maybe a thousand times before my luck ran out. I lived in a major metropolitan area with a population of about 5 million people so I could call different pharmacies as different doctors for a very long time, but I knew it couldn't go on forever. The end came when I happened to call a pharmacist who a golfing buddy with the doctor I was impersonating. Needless to say, he knew I wasn't when I went to pick it up the cops were waiting for me behind the tall shelves of medicine. As soon as I asked for it they popped out, jumped the front counter and tackled me to the ground. The first one had me in chicken wing half nelson while the other one put a huge pistol to my neck. They had a merry old time inflicting as much pain on me as possible before handcuffing and hauling me to jail. To make a long story a little shorter...I was sentenced to either 8 years in state prison or 3 years in a court-ordered, live-in treatment facility which was the most bizarre experience you can imagine...(one treatment method was to make you wear a diaper (and nothing else) and be continuously berated, screamed at and kept awake for several days at a time....all the while doing different types of physical labor like scrubbing the bathrooms with a toothbrush, etc.. Needless to say, once I was finally free.... (3 years later)....I was not cured, despite the absolute certainty of the "doctors" and counselors that this was the only way to cure a craving for drugs. My drug of choice was tussionex, which at the time had the same properties that OxyContin now has. I knew that I would eventually end up right back in the same place if I continued bust scripts so I ended up getting on heroin simply so my urine would permit me to get on the waiting list for a methadone program. This was in '79 or '80 and I have been employed, married with 2 kids and drug free (other than MMT) ever since. I have heard horror stories from people at my clinic because where I live does not allow dosing of methadone in the city or county jails. I have no reason to be going to jail and just the thought of it terrifies me. It seems to be a needless torture done out of ignorance to methadone patients. I had to kick a habit cold turkey back then and it was brutal. There have been stories of older patients on high doses actually dying in jail and having it listed as 'natural causes' or a heart attack. As one of many living testaments to the success of MMT what can we do to help? I have had temporary transfers to England, Switzerland and Germany and am always amazed at their programs and attitudes as compared to the USA. We like to think of ourselves as so much more advanced than others...but it certainly isn't the case where this subject is concerned.

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the same experience. I posed as a doctor and for 2 years called in schedule 3 Vicodin ES an Tussionex. After years of not being able to get on MMT, I got heroin and finally got on, but I continued calling in prescriptions because it also paid my rent.
I got caught went to jail for 3 months and was just getting over my methadone withdrawal and thus went right on heroin, I.V. this time, cocaine added to the mix, I became quite crazy and decided to get the Schedule 2 drugs by walking into drug stores with a paper that looked like a presciption but was written " I have a gun put all these drugs in a bag" along with a junkies dremam list. Got caught, did 6 years of a 10 year sentence and got on methadone as soon as I got out in 1996. I have kept my job and raised my son alone. His mom died from some poision street heroin when he was only 6. He is 17 now and is fine, but if not for the idiotic drug laws and lack of methadone on demand the 30 year "DRUG WAR" will continue to kill more kids than our military wars. How about a "WAR ON STUPIDITY"?


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