Lifelong addiction to methadone is not the answer to solving problem of opioid abuse
The Enterprise’s April 27 editorial, “Battle against opioid abuse wages on,” hit the nail on the head. For six years, The Mission has dealt with countless St. Mary’s County residents with various addictions on a daily basis. In the past, heroin and alcohol have been the most prevalent struggles of those who walk through our doors. However, since much of last year, that has changed. The number of people addicted to opioids has increased so dramatically that our annual benefit dinner last October focused on this very problem.
Although the $13.7 million state-allotted funding is good, it needs to be directed wisely.
For example, to combat heroin addiction, the legal drug methadone (a synthetic opioid) is prescribed to heroin addicts. This is done in the hope that the patient can gradually reduce their intake of illegal drugs while avoiding traumatic withdrawal.
Unfortunately, methadone is just as addictive as heroin. When people stop using this new drug, the withdraw symptoms are just as problematic, resulting in lifelong methadone addicts. The Mission now sees individuals who have been on methadone for years. Sadly, some prescribers have no plan to wean addicts off methadone.
The state’s funding was supported by Sen. Steve Waugh (R-St. Mary’s, Calvert). Mr. Waugh is a good example of what’s needed from our local representatives. Not only did Sen. Waugh support opioid legislation, but when The Mission reached out to Mr. Waugh to be a part of our yearly video highlighting the Opioid problem, he enthusiastically said yes.
Let’s be sure that our state’s entry plan comes with a solid exit plan regarding patients who are in recovery. A lifelong addiction to methadone is not the answer.
Richard Myers, Lexington Park
The writer is executive director of The Mission.