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  Methadone Clinics and Methadone Itself
by J. Grant Swank, Pastor
5 October 2002

Although methadone has been misused by some, there is still a strong argument in favor of using it for treating heroin addicts.


Methadone is currently in the news because of it being misused by some.

I was a methadone clinic substance abuse counselor to heroine addicts.

I endorse methadone disseminated properly. It has given addicts another chance to make a living without stealing in order to support an addiction habit.

True. Taking methadone doses every morning is an inconvenience to the one receiving the dose. But that is the alternative numerous addicts have chosen rather than remaining on heroine.

True. There are some who misuse methadone by selling doses. But not all do.

True. There are some who will be on methadone all their lives. But there will be some who will not.

True. Some methadone users lie to clinicians. But most do not lie because if they are found out in the lie, they lose clinic privileges.

True. There are some clinics that are not run properly. They are out for the money. They are lax in record keeping and such. But not all clinics are dilatory.

True. There are some methadone users who lapse. But there are many who do not.

Every day I counseled human beings—former addicts. They told me that "I would be on the streets if I did not come here to the clinic."

"I now hold a job. I have a few dollars in my pocket. I pay my bills. I didn’t do any of that when I was hooked on heroine."

"I am clean now. The cramps are gone. I feel better now that I am on methadone."

"My daughter and I go shopping. We have a family again. I don’t steal any more."

"I own my business, running a restaurant downtown. I no longer live two lives—split down the middle."

These statements are from human beings who had trapped themselves into an unbelievable addiction that endangered their lives and the lives of others. It also opened up daily stealing from the innocent in order to support the habit.

If methadone is not available to persons who want off heroine, then most will return to the heroine—further ruining their futures and those of others as well as robbing in order to underwrite the habit.

Granted. Methadone is a legal drug which can be a life-long intake. But, since we do not live in a perfect world, sometimes we have to live with a lesser evil. Such is the case here.

In a perfect world, no one would champion methadone as a lifestyle. But in this imperfect sphere, methadone use it is a needful lifestyle in that it substitutes a legal, more benign, substance for an illegal one. That is the bottom line when reasoning regarding methadone.

When a substance abuse counselor, I was not always proud of everything that went on in the clinic. When appropriate, I voiced my objections.

But when I went back to my counseling room to meet another client, hearing that client express appreciation for the improved lifestyle because of methadone, I became convinced that I was doing a service to these people. I would not have continued in that position if I had reasoned otherwise.

What then is to be done with the present state of things? The press has given ample coverage as to what is going on in some clinics. With that understood, I would recommend that greater surveillance be made of the clinic administrators and agendas. That is where the tightening up needs to be.

Of course, some clients are not playing according to the rules. That’s a given in our imperfect world. Therefore, naturally more stringent perimeters need to be enforced concerning those clients.

But the answer is not to take methadone away from all clients. That will not solve anything. It will merely return our society to increased heroine users and all the horrors that that entails.

Email J. Grant Swank