Methadone in BC:
Methadone, a man made opiate, is used as a legal drug substitute for heroin. Using methadone to chemically replace heroin is called methadone detox. In BC Methadone detox is big business. I have received reports that $52 million in 2002 was spent on methadone detox in BC. Approximately 80% of that goes directly to the pharmacies that administer it, making methadone the drug of choice in the legal drug trade. The average methadone pharmacy makes about $3 million a year from methadone sales. Currently there are approximately 7,800 legal BC methadone users, or patients, receiving methadone maintenance. Dr. Perry Kendall, BC’s Health Officer has been leading BC’s strategy to encourage doctors and addiction specialists to prescribe Methadone for heroin users.
Methadone Detox Epidemic:
Kendall has been quoted in the “Vancouver Courier” newspaper as preferring the opening of “safe injection sites” before the funding of drug-free treatment centers or traditional abstinence based rehabilitation for those once addicted to drugs such as heroin, crack and even methadone. Why would the top health officer in BC support drug substitution and permit practices which make room for dangerous drug addiction?
There is a belief amongst addiction doctors that addiction is incurable in many addicts. The fact that 100,000s of addicts have recovered from hardcore addiction is not comprehensible to addiction doctors who subscribe to the ‘addiction is incurable’ belief.
Methadone Detox is in fact a euphemism, a good word put to an addictive practice. Any one in the detox field or rehab field knows that methadone is 3 to 5 times more difficult to detox from than heroin. Why would anyone encourage methadone instead of simply getting the addict off of heroin?
There are few effective long term drug-free treatment programs for heroin addicts receiving public funding in BC. The consequences of statistically poor results (10% to 20% success) from traditional medical or non-medical heroin detox and treatment is loss of hope for the heroin addict and their families. The current strategy of installing publicly funded heroin and crack consumption sites is a result of no BC government recognized, effective addiction programs for hard core addicts.
Effective drug-free programs for hardcore addicts exist in North America, but are relatively new. One could easily say that society is about 50 years behind available current effective treatments when it comes to drug addiction. The individual addict and their families are left with the responsibility to search out, locate and support such programs where ever they exist. Will you?
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