Thursday, November 09, 2006

MEASURING SUCCESS: PURELY A FUNCTION OF HOW YOU DEFINE IT

There’s been a lot of coverage to the statement of a prominent Scottish “drugs expert” to his alleged finding that “Methadone helps just 4%” (the headline of an Oct. 29 article in the Glasgow Sunday Herald). In essence, a group of methadone treatment admissions were assessed three years after starting treatment to see how many were “drug-free.” The outcome, which could have been predicted, read as follows in the introductory sentence: “A shocking new study has revealed the true extent of methadone programme failure in Scotland, with only a tiny proportion of addicts becoming drug-free through the heroin substitute.

Ignored by the “expert” and by the article is the fact that addiction is recognized by the World Health Organization and by governments throughout the world as a chronic, notoriously relapsing, eminently treatable but as yet incurable disease. To condemn methadone – or any medication used in treating any other chronic illness – if, in the words of this article, “it isn’t helping [patients] become drug-free” is simply misguided. Imagine using this yardstick for determining efficacy of insulin, or anti-hypertensives, or cardiac medications, or l-dopa, or anti-seizure medication, or . . . .

As with alcoholism, one measures success in treating opiate addiction one day at a time. Methadone helps restore health, enables productive social functioning and sharply reduces the spread of HIV-AIDS and other blood-borne diseases. It saves lives and yields enormous savings to the community.

2 Comments:

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Kristan said...

I didn't even know where to begin when I received this horrid article in my inbox....it's impossible to argue with people that just don't understand (and never WILL) what addiction is and what a person with the condition considers "success". This whole deal with the Scots started because of one poor little boys overdose death. A tragedy, to be sure. But are we going to start to ban bleach products, other medications or small objects too because some parents find out the hard way that they can't leave these items within a young childs reach?
Better yet, if this overdose had been with tylenol or aspirin would we have even read about it on such a national level or would we have let the parents grieve in privacy?
I had great parents who adored me and didn't use drugs or alcohol....and yet I swallowed lye at the age of three. Thankfully, the government didn't take me away from them...apparently if they had been drug addicts trying desperately to get better through medication assisted treatment the lynch mob would have put them in jail!

 
At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better yet if the parents had to go into the clinic everyday to get thier medication this would not of happened at all.

If parents taking methadone can't keep a better lock on such a dangerous medication then they shouldn't have carries period.

 

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