Friday, February 29, 2008


The following was an unpublished Letter to the Editor:
Dear Editor,
You imply that the 7000 patients being treated medically with the medication methadone fall under the rubric "parent with a drug problem" (Feb.19). This does a terrible disservice to patients and providers of medical care that has for over 40 years been demonstrated to be uniquely effective in permitting opiate dependent people to lead healthy, productive, responsible lives. To the extent you suggest society should give up on efforts to help these 7000 (there are no alternatives for the vast majority!), you help to perpetuate and aggravate the problems faced by the children you wish to protect.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


This is from university students... An editorial in the Daily Targum, Rutgers University, of Feb. 26 is headlined, “End the war on drugs.” It goes on to explain why, citing some 40 billion dollars yearly in federal and state expenditures in support of a “hopelessly outdated and Draconian policty ... [that has] has done little, if anything, to curb the flow of these substances into, and throughout, our nation.” With students like this there’s hope for a better tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A report in Citizens' Voice (Feb. 13, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) discusses the unwillingness of the vast majority of physicians to seek and utilize permission to prescribe buprenorphine in the treatment of opiate dependency.

It's not going to help matters when one reads in this story of a physician who states that his own patients "look normal to you or me," but then goes on to make the horrendously negative generalization that addicts “are very difficult patients. They’re highly manipulative. They lie, they cheat, they steal. … They also may present an unkempt appearance in the office.”

This physician apparently believes that there's something unique about him, his treatment, or his office. The fact is that patients who "look normal" are the rule rather than the exception in all practices that provide maintenance treatment - be it with buprenorphine or methadone. The physician cited in this article does a disservice to those who receive care, and the vastly greater numbers who, as this article notes, cannot find providers because of the stigma that is applied to them.


A battle won, but the war continues unabated. The Baltimore Sun (Feb 24) headline said it all: "Drug clinic limits stand," despite a federal Appeals Court ruling that a specific clinic may remain open. The precise wording of the article as it relates to the bottom line:

"With a less-than-definitive opinion from a federal appeals court, Baltimore County officials say they have no intention of scrapping their restrictions on the location of methadone clinics."

Monday, February 18, 2008


" better with addicts who used opiates for two years or less, while methadone is preferred for long-term users." This is the statement in the Times-Tribune story of 13 Feb. entitled, "Treatment still facing hurdles in regulation." The quote reflects what is frequently heard and read. The question is: is there any evidence to support either the "better" effect of buprenorphine on relatively recent users, or the "better" outcomes of methadone with longer-term users of opiates? I don't think so - but would welcome citations on the point.

Click for Link

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Charleston Treatment Program (W. Virginia) has the following notice posted:
"If you have completed the take home justification to receive take homes, do not ask your counselor where your paperwork is located or who needs to sign your papers next. If you ask for take home privileges or ask questions about your take home paperwork, your take home privileges will be delayed by two weeks." Reminds me of a scene with my son and grand-daughter a few days ago: "If you ask one more time to watch that TV program you won't watch any TV for 2 days." But my grand-daughter is 5 years old. Patients do not deserve to be treated like 5 year-olds. It's amazing - and a testimony to true motivation! - that patients enter and stay in treatment where staff treat them like kindergarden kids.


BBC NEWS (5 Feb) headlined - "

MSPs agree on drugs policy revamp. The SNP and the Tories have reached a deal ...
to draft a new strategy involving less reliance on methadone and a potentially greater stress on promoting abstinence." Scotland's parliamentarians apparently refuse to accept the consistent experience of many decades: a large majority of opiate-dependent individuals is simply jnable - for whatever constellation of reasons - to achieve and maintain abstience! How many Scots must die before this reality sinks in?

Monday, February 04, 2008


The Irish Independent (Jan 27) quotes a medical officer at a local prison as claiming methadone “basically substitutes one addiction for another, legal for illegal.” Overlooked is the fact – confirmed by consistent outcome studies published in the worldwide literature for over 4 decades – that methadone allows many patients to resume healthy and productive lives, reduces spread of HIV-AIDS, lowers mortality, etc. Some 9,200 patients are said to be receiving methadone in Dublin alone - can anyone possibly suggest that these people would be better off – and community better served – if methadone were denied?


LTE to Washington Post, Feb. 2nd, 2008

Craig Wolf, president of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, wrote that unlicensed, unregulated alcohol kills [letters, Jan. 17]. He noted the deaths of people in other countries from alcohol that is homemade, counterfeit or tainted, offering a contrast with the situation in the United States, where alcohol has been regulated since Prohibition ended in 1933.

Another lifesaving benefit of regulation that Mr. Wolf did not mention is the end of violence related to alcohol prohibition. When alcohol consumption was illegal in this country we had Al Capone and shootouts in the streets. Today, no one dies over the sale of Budweiser.

The failure and harms of alcohol prohibition are clear. Why have we not learned our lessons when it comes to other drugs, such as marijuana? Tainted drugs, mass incarceration and rampant violence are not a byproduct of the cannabis plant but of the prohibition that creates a profit motive people are willing to kill for.

Director of Media Relations
Drug Policy Alliance
New York