Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

To provide a better understanding of the very important role methadone plays in the treatment of addiction.
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 in Vietnam: Methadone Helps Addicts Kick Heroin, Prevent HIV

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Age : 45
Location : live in Louisiana but attend MMT clinic in Tx
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Registration date : 2009-05-25

PostSubject: in Vietnam: Methadone Helps Addicts Kick Heroin, Prevent HIV   Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:14 am

Methadone Helps Addicts Kick Heroin, Prevent HIV

FrontLines - November 2010
By Richard Nyberg

HAI PHONG, Vietnam— One by one, they make their way into the clinics. Greeting the staff, they sign in and move to the next room where they pick up their daily dose of a colorful fluid in a small disposable cup, washing it down with a sip of water. No longer dependent on heroin, they are trying to kick the habit and get their lives back on track.

The pink juice contains methadone, a medication that is used to treat heroin addiction. Without methadone or heroin, the torture of withdrawal takes hold. With the treatment, there is no need to engage in criminal acts to support an expensive habit and no needles to spread diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Patients are more likely to find jobs, heal ties with family, and become stable, productive members of society.

USAID, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has played a leading role in Vietnam’s successful pilot phase with methadone.

In May 2008, after two years of planning, the Vietnamese government, with PEPFAR support, launched six methadone clinics in Hai Phong, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City—three of which are supported by USAID—to treat heroin addicts. Of the more than 30 PEPFAR countries, Vietnam was the first country to use the program’s funds to support medicationassisted therapy.

Methadone treatment, used for more than three decades in many western countries, is now part of a comprehensive set of health-care services supported by USAID.

“Methadone helps drug addicts reduce the frequency of drug use, reducing risk behavior for HIV; stabilize their lives; and reintegrate with families and communities. Also, it can help reduce crime and overdose deaths,” said To Minh Gioi, vice chairman of Can Tho People’s Committee, the province’s governing authority, at a clinic opening this year.

According to Chu Quoc An, vice director of the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, Vietnam’s experience has been positive.

“After nine months of treatment, there was no new HIV carrier, hepatitis B, [or hepatitis] C patient among these [former heroin addicts],” he said in an interview with Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre newspaper. “The percentage of patients facing health problems reduced from 9.7 to 4.9 percent after three months of taking methadone. The ratio of patients who were in high risk of depression fell from 80 percent to 5 percent after nine months.” Following the successful pilot, the Vietnamese government says that over the next five years it will roll out methadone treatment to reach 80,000 of the country’s officially estimated 150,000 heroin addicts, who account for the majority of people living with HIV in Vietnam.

Deputy Prime Minister Trýõng V.nh, chairman of the National Committee for HIV/ AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control, asked the Ministry of Health to conduct pilot projects in 10 more cities and provinces between 2010 and 2012—a tacit acknowledgement of the initial project’s success. After examining results, officials will then map out plans to conduct the second stage covering 30 provinces and cities from 2013 to 2015.

Over the next several months, USAID will provide support, including methadone and related services, to 10 new clinics in Can Tho, Dien Bien, Hai Phong, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. USAID also supplies most antiretroviral drugs to HIV clinics in Vietnam.

As of late September, more than 2,150 drug users were voluntarily taking advantage of methadone to help shake off heroin dependency. In clinics, where the synthetic drug is kept under lock and key, clients receive their daily dose, and much more. They are provided health examinations, free basic lab testing, and, when necessary, are referred to other health facilities for care. They also benefit from drug-addiction and family counseling and have the opportunity to take part in peer-group support sessions.

One beneficiary is Manh, who had battled a 10-year addiction and asked that his surname not be used in an article. He now drives a taxi in Hai Phong, has married his girlfriend, enjoys the acceptance and support of his family, and volunteers at the clinic.

“Methadone treatment has made a positive change in my life,” he said. “My health is improving, I feel better about myself, and my life is stable. I am very happy now and waiting for a baby.” ★

This comes from USAIDE and the original link is:

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