I am writing in response to the many articles which have appeared in The Telegram over the past year where people and groups have discounted the use of methadone and the maintenance program for which it is used.
As a local physician prescribing methadone, I must now come to its defense.
As with any program there are difficulties. There will always be a way to undermine or abuse the system, whether it is the employment insurance program, the Canada Pension Plan, the disability tax certificate process, the disabled parking permit procedure, etc. However, there are positive aspects in these programs, and the methadone maintenance program is no exception, as many lives have been improved.
People truly addicted to opiates (heroin, OxyContin/Neo, Percocet, Morphine, Demerol, Dilaudid, Codeine) have lost most everything. Everything they own and everything within. They are shells of their former selves and have tried everything to regain normality. People who start the methadone program do not want to be there. They have no other choice and it is their last choice — for some their last chance.
Transformations have occurred. It is truly rewarding to see someone with a fat wallet, a new truck, a blossoming relationship or a parent overcome with emotion as their son or daughter returns as their son or daughter.
These are the reasons I do what I do.
I show them how to do it and hope they will.
Methadone does not work for everybody and is not a cure but an effective treatment, especially when combined with addiction counselling, which is sorely lacking in this province. People do come off methadone. Fifty per cent of my patients are now in the weaning process.
There is hope for people on the methadone maintenance program. It is not all bad. Additionally, with the new standards and guidelines, recently imposed and governed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador, these programs will be safer, not only for the patients, but also for the general public.
Dr. Jeff White