Thursday, November 16, 2006


"Deaths spur new scrutiny of clinics" (Nov. 7), one is reminded of the person looking for a coin a block away from where it was dropped, "because the light's better." Deaths attributed to methadone, nationwide, have been found by exhaustive review of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration to be associated overwhelmingly with medication prescribed for pain, and not that provided by programs treating opiate dependence. Accordingly, it is irrational to react to the "rising tide of prescription drug deaths" in Utah by "looking to tighten regulation of its nine methadone clinics."

Methadone clinics save lives and are an enormous boon to patients, their families and the entire community. Every effort should be directed at making them more readily accessible to everyone who wants and needs their help - not "tightening regulations" that will make treatment availability more difficult.


At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must disagree with you. I was on methadone for 5 months and I can't even tell you how many drug deals I saw in the parking lot, how many people I saw coming in to the clinic high, or how many people I saw making drug deals right in the line for the med windows. Also, they were not very cooperative with me when I wanted to come off of the methadone. You can NOT die from methadone withdraw. I'd asked to come down from 65 mgs by taking it down 10 mgs a week. What did they say? They said NO, but agreed to let me come down 5 mgs a weeek. "Why", you ask. MONEY MONEY MONEY. Most of the people in those places are NOT trying to get sober, just stop from being dope sick. THey don't want to feel the pain of getting sober and working a 12 step program. And you know what, the clinics are quite happy with this. I'm sure that they'd be happy if No one kicked the methadone. More MONEY for them.

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello STIGMA...

If you would bother reading about this medication and how it effects the body you would ealize the staff was not keeping you a slave to the medication,but following god medical practice. Methadone is not a short acting opiate,which means it deosn't leae the body quickly much like heroin,morphine,etc. So it really was your health they were looking out for. I'm glad you have found something,even tho it is a cult,to help with your recovery. Just as each of us is an indiviual so should our recovery be. However 12 steps do not think this way. It's a one size fits all program. Not very healthy from where I am sitting. If I was to go to a meeting and told them I was on this medication I would be asked if I was taking it for pain or from a program? Please tell me what the difference is? I really want to know. Now stop and think about Diabetic's. They need a medication for their body each day,yet no one asks them to refrain from speaking at a meeting. I see no difference between the 2 diseases.So please understand that each time you talk about this medication with that distaste in your voice you are feeding stigma surrounding this medication. True this medication is not for everyone,no one ever said it was,but when used properly it will save your life and give you a quality of life you and everyone else deserves. So until you get your acts right please do not continue to feed stigma that Advocates deal with on a daily basis helping methadone patients everywhere. It only makes our job harder and you could prevent someone from saving their life b y doing this injustice.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger RGNewman, MD said...

We welcome different viewpoints - the more the better. Addiciton and its treatment are complex issues about which people of good will and mutual respect can and do disagree. Ultimately, one's personal views are largely determined by individual experiences - patients are different, programs are different, responses are different. And that is precisely why we are so appreciative of blog postings - whether they agree or disagree with our point of view. rgn

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr.Newman. This news amazed me too. There is even a petition on a petition site online that is calling for a "ban of takehome medication from methadone clinics because people are dying from this medication".

In my state a recent Editorial called for tighter regulations of methadone clinics (they are already tighter than any other drug known to mankind in my opinion) because of diversion. The only thing he didn't mention in the Editorial is that MOST of the overdose deaths and diversion of methadone has not been linked to clinics. So exactly how are tighter regulations going to CHANGE ANYTHING? How can people be so blindly prejudice?

At 10:52 PM, Blogger Melis11577 said...

I am writing on behalf of the victims and those yet to be victims of methadone. I have come together with many other families throughout the United States who have lost loved ones to methadone.

We are asking government agencies to enact stricter guidelines in prescribing methadone for any reason. It must be mandatory that all doctors be certified and trained in the pharmacology of methadone; inpatient stays must be required during induction to methadone; all staff be extensively trained in monitoring methadone patients for symptoms of toxicity. Clinic patients should be tested for legal and illegal drugs that are taken with methadone to get “ hi gh” of experience “euphoria” such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine, heroin ect… and face severe consequences / mandatory detoxification from methadone program when presenting inebriated at clinic, clinic should also document such activity as well as prevent client from driving. Take home doses for all patients receiving methadone should be eliminated thus preventing the risk of diversion or precautions such as pill safe should be implemented.

Current statistics show that nearly 4000 people a year die from methadone. These deaths are mostly happening to pain management and detoxification patients wit hi n the first 10 days of taking initial dose. Most of these deaths are related to methadone prescribed with other medications that react as additives with methadone. Diversion of methadone is a serious problem because it lands t hi s most deadly drug on streets. Statistics also state that methadone is contributing to more deaths nationwide then heroine and cocaine.

The government did take notice after the 2003 record number of deaths associated with methadone and the Bush administration responded by gathering the top experts on drug overdoses, doctors, researchers, and medical examiners, as well as representatives from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association. Finn and Tuckwiller (2006) report that “the man hired to research and write the report based on the conference, as well as background paper for conference participants, was Stewart B. Leavitt, and addiction specialist whose work is funded by the makers of methadone”. Stewart B. Leavitt PhD served as researcher/writer for A National Assessment of Methadone-Associated Mortality: Background Briefing Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Stewart B Leavitt also writes Addiction Treatment Forum Methadone Dosing & Safety in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction which is funded by Mallinckrodt, Inc. a manufacturer of methadone. My question is why hasn't a team of independent researchers not funded by pharmaceutical companies; a person or group of people that stand to gain no financial benefit on the outcome of the studies been hired to conduct the research? Finn and Tuckwiller (2006) report that “the man hired to research and write the report based on the conference, as well as background paper for conference participants, was Stewart B. Leavitt, and addiction specialist whose work is funded by the makers of methadone”. Stewart B. Leavitt PhD served as researcher/writer for A National Assessment of Methadone-Associated Mortality: Background Briefing Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Stewart B Leavitt also writes Addiction Treatment Forum Methadone Dosing & Safety in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction which is funded by Mallinckrodt, Inc. a manufacturer of methadone. On the forum associated with his website several of the clinic participants speak of diverting, misusing, stockpiling, selling, and potentiating methadone and other prescription drugs.

This methadone epidemic and deaths associated with it are not going away. It's only getting worse; I get contacted by families on a daily basis who have lost someone to this drug. At what point do we value human life over the convenience of others? Methadone patients, whether they are pain or clinic pose a risk to themselves and society as a whole if they are not monitored, dosed, and assessed correctly. Clinic patients getting into cars after being dosed who are using benzodiazepines, alcohol, or other opiates are killing innocent people on the road. This type of harm reduction is not saving lives it’s taking them. The government cannot continue to be a legal drug dealer in order for its citizens to “behave”. Many MMT patients claim that they have been able to maintain sobriety for long periods of time (several years) but are unhappy and depressed therefore seek out MMT and describe the "high" they get from this that makes they happy. Endorphin Deficiency is another "off-label" use of methadone. I have yet to be able to find this "diagnosis" listed in the DSM IV but I'm am sure they a large percentage of the population suffer from this as endorphin deficiency precipitated not only by opiate abuse but also eating disorders, ADHD, low levels of neurotransmitter GABA, PMS, stress, MS, depression etc....
I know the rules are in place for the clinics but they are NOT being followed. Patients sell take homes outside the clinics. In one news article a man died in the parking lot of a clinic after taking his brothers take home. This drug is too dangerous to be allowed in medicine cabinets! There is A LOT of money to be made from methadone but what expense is that money being made at? When do the risks outweigh the benefits of this drug? How many more people must die before changes are made that actually save lives?

On June 24th 2006 I lost my fiancé (Ron) to t hi s deadly drug prescribed by a physician with a combination of other medications that acted as additives to the Methadone. He had knee surgery and became addicted to the percocet he was prescribed. He checked hi mself into Greenleaf in Valdosta , GA for detoxification. Upon entering the facility he was drug tested and did not come up positive for opiates (he had stopped taking the percocet 4 days before entering the facility). On the fourth day in detox he died sometime between 2am and 1pm in the afternoon (he was never checked on in all of those hours). The night before he died he was complaining of migraines and vomiting, apparently the staff thought he was still experiencing withdrawals and was not concerned about these symptoms. The symptoms of methadone toxicity mimic withdrawal symptoms physicians and staff must be very cognizant of the complex properties and metabolization of methadone. There were many errors made in my fiancé’s death including the fact that he was given numerous amounts of additive medications such as benzodiazepines. He had only been taking percocet for about 4 months and according to the DSM IV he wouldn’t be an appropriate candidate methadone maintenance treatment.

It doesn't matter specific reasons for taking methadone but what does matter is that t hi s medication is deadly and physicians need to more prudent in prescribing it as well as monitoring their patients w hi le beginning treatment of any kind using Methadone. I'm not sure if Ron was given methadone for the sole purpose for detoxification from opiates or if it was a combination of pain relief associated with numerous surgeries and opiate addiction. Methadone is difficult to properly dose no matter what reason it's being used for and primarily relies on the patient’s indications of how they feel (assumedly they are being monitored). There are ways to make the administration of methadone safer, it's just a matter of putting the focus on t hi s drug and the deadly consequences when administered incorrectly or not monitored.

Many people are dying unnecessarily at the hands of the physicians they turn to for help. Methadone deaths are rising throughout the country. Ron was 32 years old and has 2 c hi ldren from a previous marriage that now do not have a father.

I'm also providing you a link to a website I created in hi s memory to give a more human touch to t hi s email.

At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im a former herion(intervenious)add.Im proud to say that for the past 23 mnths,I have been at the wv methadone clinic and not a day goes by were I dont thank GOD for the opp.of having that sort of treatment available to me. I litterally tried every treatment there was to offer and achieved nothing but a two yr. sent.a torn family and,yes, hepatitis c.Being in this program allows me to get ajusted once again to the "sober" feeling,the responsibility of having a real job, life, real friends, and just the feeling of being me.Not the tripped out,were am i going to get my next fix and are the police at my door? me.I stabalized myself at 110. Once I deceided I wanted to ween down, I was diagnoised w/ hep so I put "going down" on hold until I got a grip on the news that was about to change my life. Well 1 yr. has gone by and im proud to say that my hep has gone undiagnoised from the dreadfully treatment that i went threw, and went threw sober at that. I have the status now of 2 wk take homes, but have defenitly earned them. Which I do agree with on that issue. I have not failed 1 drug screen, have not missed one day,have not given even 1 mlgrm away and see my counsoler regularly every other week and see my own in between.I litterally owe my life to the clinic. Their is not one doubt in my mind that I would be, or close to ,being dead. I now also have a full-time job, a beautifull realationship w/ my family,w/GOD and most of all with my self.I thank the wheeling treatment center and GOD for letting me have that second chance. But please if you are a protester against meth, please dont hurt the ones who really take it for what it is worth; and that is"life". I truely am sorry for those who had a loved one pass due to meth, but if taken properly you can change your life. And who is to say that your loved one wasnt tricked or uneducated or just went alittle over the edge, which we all did at one time or another but it saved my life and for that i am forever gratefull. THANKS WHEELING K.S.

At 1:54 AM, Blogger kelly sac said...

I just want to say that I am very sorry for those who had lost someone due to methadone. Please try and have an open mind to the fact that they were tricked, or they were uneducated,or just plain unrealistic and may have concumed more than they could have handled. But please understand the lives that it has saved.After 6 yrs. of intervenious use,2 yrs in prision, going in and out of every treatment center in the U.S, even the univitable,died 2 x's. I was brought back, but after they made the phone call to my mother and father,on fathers day to top it off,after all that my family and i made the decesion to try methadone and here I am today.Working a full-time job, money in the bank,a loving relationship w/ my family, sober freinds and most importantly the love I now have for myself. All the stuff that will prepair me for the total abstenence "world" Please let those who want the help be able to remain to receive it.

At 2:35 AM, Blogger kelly sac said...

1 more thing I would like to say; As far as people driving after dosing? Well when you have take homes, you take it at your conveince. Yes you most follow tight rules and be very closley monitored, if you screw up then you must remove yourself from the program cause like all other programs,you are not taking this one seriously as well. But at some point most people find a treatment that works for them, methadone must be just for certain willed people who have the heart to stay clean as well as strong then their are those whose addictions, which may I add, no one in this world ever asked to have such a demon-like charicteristic, just cant find the stregth to follow certain rules that the clinic expects from you.Yes I agree on harsh rules, thorough background history, suprize take home checks,manitory "essay"type papers on their felling of recovery and if you dont comply then you must go find another alteritive but please know:people will start dying a more horrible death, more people going to prision, more people stealing and freightining their own loved ones if methadone clinics got banned completly. Addition is a catch 22, there is no one single cure all. Differant strokes for differant folks. Once again my uncle died of herion so I can feel you alittle but please think of the ones who has made a 180 w/ the treatment of methadone

At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You say that the doctors are only watching out by bring someone down only a few mgs at a time for ex 5mgs at a time.

This person wanted to come down 10 mgs at a time.

Question then

How come when some clinics want to get rid of a paitent they bring them down very fast like with a few weeks from high doses?

Can't say that has not happened. I've heard many stories from methadone paitents that they have been brought down so fast they couldn't stand the pain they were thrown into.

At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kristan, I suggest you click onto our petition and read story after story and see that we are not "prejudice". We are the families of the loved ones that died at the hand of a methadone clinic, or doctor's script, or diversion, all methadone. My son had a pain pill addiction and believed the "ads" for the methadone clinic saying they could help him. He was on Zoloft which he told them. He was started at 30 mg. He was falling asleep during the day each day; however they had doubled his dose by the 5th day to 60 mg. I found him that night. He had been dead about 12 hours. The sight of your son's dead body is something that will forever change your life. The autopsy revealed only Zoloft and a TOXIC AMOUNT OF METHADONE. . .the exact amount the clinic had administered. So your beloved drug IS lethal and your beloved clinics are so busy running to the bank that they forget what drugs can cause lethal reactions. So do not tell us that people die from combining it with benzos, etc. We know how they died. .And do your docs and clinics talk to you about withdrawal? Or do they discuss that? Of maybe they just want to keep you on it forever. I have heard people talk about how that reaks havok with the body. But no clinic will talk about that as they brainwash you to think you "need" it as the above poster said. He is exactly right. But Dr. Newman wouldn't have a job if he agreed. .My son was given a take home the FIRST WEEKEND. He did exactly as instructed. He also crashed into our neighbor's fence upon arriving home. Thank God he didn't pass out before that and kill someone else before that. These clinics could do so many things to make it safer like keep the patients there 45 minutes longer when they increase the dose. They only had my son stay there 20 minutes every day. You all are in denial which is common in an addict. Wake up and start to taper off!

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

shaffer20I disagree with that last statement. Drug deals dont go down at or in the clinic that i go to. And about comming down 5mgs a week instead of 10mgs they do this for the patient so uthey dont get dopesick. And yeah im sure that some people do go to the clinics for the free or the cheaper high, but i am very impressed with the one that i go to. had it not been for my wanting to get clean and for their wanting to help me i wouldnt have the life that i have today. You, Anonymous said, obviously if u were only on it for 5 months u didnt give them a chance to do their part in it. They say the usual addict is on methadone anywhere from 9 to 18 months. Im at 17 mos now and im working towards taking my test for emt and im in college now, If it werent for the Clinic im sure id still be the drug addict that i was.


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