Life­long ad­dic­tion to methadone is not the an­swer to solv­ing prob­lem of opi­oid abuse

The Enterprise - - Community Forum -

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.

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