Thursday, November 19, 2009


That's the heading of a reader letter to the Kennebec Journal Morning Sentinel (Nov 15). The writer mentions, as an illustration of the inadequacy of services, a three-month wait for admission to the methadone clinic in Waterville, Me., and notes that lack of prompt access to care also is a catastrophe for the community that bears the crime and fear that go along with untreated dependence.

But it need not be this way. There is no reason why applicants for methadone treatment, in particular, must be forced to remain on a waiting list for 3 months - as is said to be the case in Waterville.

Earlier this year, just a few hundred miles to the northeast, in St. John, NB, rapid expansion of methadone treatment was accomplished almost overnight and waiting lists eliminated in a matter of a few months. (SEE POSTING). All that's required is commitment.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Recommendations of Expert Committee of Council of Europe. The Expert Committee, reporting in March, 2008, noted that pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights “… no public authority or private individual has any right to impose on anyone’s private or family life, and even less so to carry out or order drug testing in anyone.” The exceptions are narrowly defined as law enforcement agents acting with explicit legal authority, and “certain health professionals, to the exact extent that obtaining this confidential information is essential … in their patients’ interests…”

With regard to schools, the Committee not only determined that drug testing is ineffective as a deterrent to substance misuse, but concluded that it interferes with monitoring by parents and educators of children’s “emotional, social and intellectual development through dialogue based on trust… [and] undermines the pupil-teacher relationship and the psycho-social climate … which have been proven to have a protective function.” We would note that the same impediments exist in an addiction treatment setting to a “dialogue based on trust” and to the relationship between clinician and patient.

Bottom line: “… [drug] testing procedures in schools or the workplace pose an ethical problem founded on international, universal and absolute rights. It would be appropriate to take steps to prohibit such procedures and to seek to achieve the same ends by means that show greater respect for privacy, family life and the fundamental rights of every individual …”

Full report available at:

Monday, November 09, 2009


The epitome of misunderstanding of methadone treatment in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal of Nov. 9. An article cites a financial guru as comparing the "... recent central-bank stimulus with methadone: unavoidable, perhaps, but putting off a cure until later." Nothing better denotes the (decidedly negative!) popular view of this uniquely effective form of care of opiate dependence. Imagine postulating that chemotherapy puts off a cure for cancer, or L-dopa puts off a cure for Parkinson's, or... Advocates and providers of methadone treatment have a long, long way to go in their efforts to educate the general public.