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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 City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT

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lilgirllost
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PostSubject: City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT   Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:57 am

City sees changing view on methadone


By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER - Published: December 5, 2011


A lot has changed since the last time a methadone clinic was proposed in Rutland.

When Rutland Regional Medical Center and Rutland Mental Health Services sought approval for a clinic to treat addictions to opiate drugs such as heroin and prescription painkillers like Oxycodone in 2001, there were widespread concerns from law enforcement officials, doctors and the public.

Seventy-one doctors at the hospital signed a petition opposed to the plan and a grass-roots group called “Rutland First” held a forum at the Howe Center where more than 100 people heard from a panel of doctors and out-of-state law enforcement officials who were opposed to methadone.

Less than a year after that meeting, plans for a methadone clinic were abandoned.

Ten years and seven months after the Rutland First gathering, another forum concerning a proposed treatment center that would include methadone was held in the same room.

But the opinions of the panelists and the roughly 100 people in attendance were in favor of methadone as a treatment option.

What changed?

In the view of those involved in both clinic proposals, it’s what has been learned locally and statewide during the last decade about opiate addiction that has shifted views.

While the sale and use of heroin was a growing concern to health and law enforcement officials in the spring of 2001, the numbers were comparatively small.

State Department of Health numbers show that 49 patients sought help with heroin addiction in the Rutland area in 2000. In 2001, that number nearly doubled to 96.

In the years ahead, the number of addicts seeking help would continue to grow — peaking in 2008 at 315. Last year, 253 people sought treatment.

“I think we’ve achieved a point here where it’s clear there needs to be a (methadone) treatment option,” said Wendy Wilton, who 10 years ago co-founded Rutland First.

Wilton and other members of her group voiced a number of concerns in 2001, including the risks of overdosing and diversion of the drug, which is designed to stabilize opiate addicts by countering the effects of withdrawal while, in prescribed doses, providing no high.

But one of their main worries — given voice at a forum by a Pennsylvania police captain who said a treatment center brought hardship to his community — was that building a methadone clinic would draw addicts from other areas to Rutland.

That concern was furthered by the lack of methadone treatment anywhere else in the state. The Howard Center in Burlington, the first facility in the state to provide methadone treatment, was still months away from using it when the debate occurred in Rutland in 2001.

Now there are seven such centers, providing access to methadone in every part of the state, except for Rutland and Bennington counties and a small part of southern Addison County, according to Department of Health officials.

What the state and local officials have learned from those operations appears to have gone a long way toward easing fears.

For one thing, the fears of opiate addicts migrating to methadone clinics hasn’t come to pass in Vermont communities that have adopted the treatment.

Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling said in the 10 years since methadone came to his community, he’s seen no indication that it brought extra addicts to the city or contributed to an increase in drug-related crimes.

“There has not been a measurable impact,” Schirling said. “If we were having a conversation about starting a methadone clinic today, I know I would not hesitate to endorse it.”

In Brattleboro, where a methadone clinic opened about four years ago, Police Chief Gene Wrinn had similar sentiments.

“It’s had no more of an impact than any other business,” he said. “We’ve seen no increased crime due to methadone.”

To be sure, methadone can be abused and of the 2,622 opiate patients treated last year, 53 of them involved people using methadone without a prescription.

But those abuse numbers pale in comparison with buprenorphine drugs used to treat opiate addiction such as Suboxone. While operating on the same principle as methadone, buprenorphine is prescribed for take-home use as opposed to methadone, which under federal laws can only be administered to a patient inside a clinic under strict controls.

With the same potential for recreational abuse as methadone and less strictly controlled, buprenorphine is much more commonly diverted, Department of Health officials said.

“We didn’t know a lot of things then that we know now,” said Rutland Police Capt. Scott Tucker. “We didn’t know as much about what the needs were and what the need would be to reduce demand.”

Buprenorphine combined with therapy — which treatment providers stress is the key to successfully treating opiate addiction no matter which drug is used to stabilize patients — has been the sole treatment option in Rutland for years.

And while it has been better than nothing, the lack of a methadone alternative for patients not ready for buprenorphine and the lack of a comprehensive approach to treating opiate use has been brought into sharp focus, Tucker said, by the departure in July of two of the only doctors in the area able to prescribe the drug.

With some opiate patients unable to acquire buprenorphine, Tucker said drug-related crimes have been climbing.

For example, burglaries between July and October have increased from 59 for the same time period last year to 114 this year, he said, and thefts have climbed from 248 in 2010 to 340 this year.

And increased crime isn’t the only harm besetting the community due to inadequate treatment options, Tucker said.

In the 10 years since a methadone clinic was first proposed, the captain said the number of Rutlanders addicted to heroin has grown along with the numbers of people addicted to prescription opiate drugs.

In fact, the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to prescription painkillers long ago eclipsed the number of heroin users being treated in the state. Last year, 623 people in the state received treatment for heroin addictions — down from a high of 722 people in 2006.

The treatment of other opiate drugs — predominantly prescription drugs — has meanwhile increased year-to-year throughout the decade with a high of 1,946 people receiving treatment last year.

Those kinds of increases in demand made it clear to former Rutland Regional Medical Center emergency room physician Dr. Harry Chen that a better plan was needed.

“As a physician in Rutland, it was clear to me that we were not meeting the needs of the opiate-using population,” Chen said.

Chen said patients showing signs of drug-related conditions ranging from overdoses to hepatitis C were not uncommon in the ER as were patients complaining of unspecified pain issues in the hopes of being prescribed opiate painkillers.

A year into his tenure as Vermont’s health commissioner, Chen was in Rutland last week where he advocated at the Howe Center forum for the new clinic and a comprehensive system of care that would surround it.

“Anytime that you introduce something new, it’s normal for people to be worried and concerned,” Chen said. “But when you can show that something is safe in other places and can make a difference in the health and well-being of a community while acknowledging that the problem isn’t going to go away without it, then I think you’ll find that people accept it.”

The proposed treatment clinic and accompanying “wrap-around” care model has also won endorsements from city officials who have been studying the plan as part of a community advisory board formed by the hospital and RMHS to gather feedback.

Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras and Board of Aldermen President David Allaire, who both sit on the board, said they support the proposed clinic so long as the various law enforcement officials, medical providers, housing providers and case workers come together as planned to coordinate and oversee every facet of the recovery process.

“I’m very supportive as long as it must have mandated wrap-around mental health and drug treatment counseling. Otherwise, from what I’ve gathered in my own research, the individual would be doomed to failure,” Louras said.

While no other public forums like the one hosted at the Howe Center have been planned, the advisory board will meet again this Friday at 10 a.m. at the Evergreen Center on Granger Street in Rutland.

comes from the RUTLAND HERALD and the original link is

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20111205/NEWS01/712059946/1002/NEWS01



RuthAnn
aka lilgirllost

We are not bad people trying to become good, we are sick people trying to become well.

Methadone; A Flicker Of Light In The Dark
www.medicalassistedtreatment.org
www.suboxoneassistedtreatment.org
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you cannot afford to call us, send us an email and
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PostSubject: Re: City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT   Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:44 am

You have such a brilliant way of bringing light to dark issues regarding MMT and I am so proud to say as an advocate of MMT when I read your post you win me over everytime.
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PostSubject: Re: City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT   Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:52 am

thank you so much! It means a lot to me to hear these things. However, this particular article, I didn't write, I found it and wanted to share it with you guys so I can't take credit for this one


Our other moderator Dee (who also mods for the suboxone forum) is from that area. Dee was on methadone originally but because there was no methadone clinics near her, she went on suboxone and has been on ever since. So I know we have members who will probably be impacted by this and I would love to hear from any of you all.

Again, your compliments mean a lot to me. I've worked on this forum and the MATA Inc website for about 6 yrs now and it's strictly volunteer. There are times when I wonder if I am just wasting the time that I am spending on these things instead of spending them w/my husband and our two sons (they aren't neglected or anything because of it, but you get what I mean).

Usually all I ever hear are the complaints & ppl badmouthing me when they don't like something I have told them (which is the truth!), so I also get discouraged sometimes. I swear to you in my heart of hearts, I only want to help other methadone patients and I NEVER want to do anything to harm anyone or upset anyone else. However, I will also tell you the truth if you ask my opinion and I DO NOT play around with things like suicide threats (see my previous post about just that very thing). So I guess some ppl will like me and some ppl won't like me and/or what I have to say. I'm ok with that though, especially when I know deep inside what my intentions are. I wouldn't have been working here this long if I was out to hurt everyone and/or do harm to other members/patients. I would've been banned and fired a long time ago!

OK! SHUT UP RUTHANN! I am rambling. so sorry! Thanks so much for you kind words. You don't know how much that was a needed lift.


RuthAnn
aka lilgirllost

We are not bad people trying to become good, we are sick people trying to become well.

Methadone; A Flicker Of Light In The Dark
www.medicalassistedtreatment.org
www.suboxoneassistedtreatment.org
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you cannot afford to call us, send us an email and
we will call you at our expense.
Office: 1-770-334-3655~ Cell: 1-770-527-9119
Email: mrdeanv@aol.com
ALL INFORMATION IS KEPT STRICKLY CONFIDENTIAL
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PostSubject: Re: City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT   Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:51 am

Your opinions in writing back and forth with me have always been useful and full of information I and others need so much even if it hurts but rings true, I knew this was article written by a reporter etc..but like I said whether someone else wrote it or not you bring issues to the light that need to be brought out and we need good articles with good outcomes etc too. A true advocate and you are a true advocate not only puts in view their own opinions, issues and info they bring to the attention of the MMT public all we need to know when they know it if it can or will effect the MMT population and although I do not live in Georgia and I almost passed your site up because it seemed at first glance like it was for georgia MMT'ers. (only because when I first started looking for anything, anysite or any body that might could help me sort my issues regarding my clinic hardships, I thought well this would only pertain to georgia clinics, clients etc... it was ignorance of a newbie on forums as you and watchdog were my first forums or chats of any type online) But Your site had sooooo much information and such I kept coming back and reading until I finally posted as I was scared to post anything for fear it would be seen by the wrong people. Then you and Dee for two weeks almost daily helped me get thru that terrible panic I was in and now you and watchdog and methadone support are the only three I deal with and get all I need and want because you three sites keep it all out there for us MMTer's to talk, read and learn from. So even though we don't say it enough, we are very lucky to have this site with the moderators and advocates that are here for us to use. So Thank you Ruthann and Dee and oldbrowndog. (I really like her too but havenot heard from her latley hope she is ok I PMed her a week or so ago)
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PostSubject: Re: City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT   Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:19 pm

Thank you RuthAnn for posting the article. In 2002 when I went into recovery I couldn't find anywhere to get help. Or back that up, I could find anyplace that would be able to help me with the treatment that I so badly needed at the time. I did find one place and that one place only utilized Methadone as a tool for detox only. It was a 5-7 day detox. They started patients out with 40mg of methadone and tapered me down over the course of those 7 days. At the end of those 7 days I was still at 2.5 mg and in withdrawal. I didn't know where else to turn so I left the state and moved to the south. I attended mmt in Alabama where I stayed for four years until I returned to Vermont in 2006 and as you already know, we didn't have the facilities needed and the waiting list was over a year and a half so I had to switched over to Suboxone.

When I heard they were again thinking about starting treatment in my community with a wrap around facility that included not only Suboxone but Methadone and medical services too I felt such a relif that finally there is some hope for those who need it so badly. We are a ways from making this a reality but the work is being done to make this dream a reality.
I will keep you posted as to the progress.


"I will let yesterday end so that today can begin"



Never take any online advice over that of a qualified healthcare provider
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lilgirllost
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Number of posts : 863
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Location : live in Louisiana but attend MMT clinic in Tx
Job/hobbies : COUPONING & GEOCACHING are my favorite past times but I also love reading and spending time with my husband and kids
Humor : I don't have a sense of humor.............
Registration date : 2009-05-25

PostSubject: Re: City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT   Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:25 am

Dee, be sure and keep me/us posted especially if you find out an update about it before I do.


RuthAnn
aka lilgirllost

We are not bad people trying to become good, we are sick people trying to become well.

Methadone; A Flicker Of Light In The Dark
www.medicalassistedtreatment.org
www.suboxoneassistedtreatment.org
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you cannot afford to call us, send us an email and
we will call you at our expense.
Office: 1-770-334-3655~ Cell: 1-770-527-9119
Email: mrdeanv@aol.com
ALL INFORMATION IS KEPT STRICKLY CONFIDENTIAL
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Number of posts : 484
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Location : Vermont
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PostSubject: Re: City sees changing view on methadone RUTLAND, VERMONT   Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:47 pm

I sure will without a doubt. This has been a long time in coming. We are so behind the times in terms of treatment.


"I will let yesterday end so that today can begin"



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