MISLEADING REFERENCES TO DANGERS OF METHADONE:
An article in the International Herald Tribune of March 20 was entitled, “Nine middle school girls get sick from methadone pills.” In the US, “methadone pills” are only provided for the management of pain; for many years Federal regulations have demanded that all methadone used in the treatment of dependence be in dissolved, liquid form. So in this unfortunate case it’s clear that wherever the methadone came from, it was not from comprehensive methadone treatment programs. And yet, the article describes methadone as “a drug commonly used to treat heroin addiction.” Certainly, it is that – and it’s used in treating opiate dependence with unparalleled effectiveness. The message that the average reader of this story will take home, however, is clear: by a miracle nine young girls avoided being killed by methadone, “commonly used to treat addiction.” Inevitably, the article will add to what already is the greatest hurdle that faces patients and providers in their efforts to overcome addiction - misunderstanding and the fear and stigmatization it leads to.
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE AMERICAS 20 March 08
9 middle school girls in Missouri are sickened after apparently eating methadone pills The Associated Press Published: March 20, 2008 ST. JOSEPH, Mo.: Nine middle school girls were sickened after apparently eating methadone pills supplied by a 16-year-old boy, police said. The girls were hospitalized Wednesday and being kept for observation at Heartland Regional Medical Center.
"It appears that the students are doing OK," St. Joseph police Capt. Kevin Castle said. The teen suspected of providing the prescription methadone — a drug commonly used to treat heroin addiction — was charged with distributing a controlled substance. Officials are still trying to determine where he got the drugs.
Castle said the Benton High School student is believed to have given the pills to a middle school girl on a school bus. Police believe the girl then distributed the pills to other girls, most or all of them eighth-graders. The girls first complained of feeling nauseous and groggy, and at least one was salivating excessively, school administrators said. Around noon, the girls were crying as they walked to ambulances, and one hysterical girl was taken from the school on a stretcher.
School and police officials said it is unclear whether the girls knew what they were taking. All nine of the Spring Garden Middle School girls face potential sanctions, officials said. District administrator Cheri Patterson sent a letter home with students discussing the situation. It encouraged parents to talk to their children. "Drugs, whether prescription or not prescription, are dangerous drugs. And as some of our students found out, you take a scary risk when you ingest them," Patterson said in the letter.