Being on methadone is like being on an invisible leash. The sense that you’re trapped and dependent on this little cup of orange juice for your very sanity is never far from your mind.
But the struggles of everyday life, which the drug gives you the ability to somewhat manage, are also the things that keep you from even considering the possibility of weaning yourself off the drug, and cutting the leash.
“I don’t have time to deal with detoxing off 100mg of methadone.” This was the simple justification I used to stay in the clinic, even though by now I had come to hate my leash.
Getting into the “Methadone Program” down at the “Clinic” was surprisingly easy. All that was required was that I fail a drug test for opiates. One down! And that I have the $80 bucks cash in hand. This was around the year 2000, before the insurance companies got involved. Once the money started rolling into the hands of these privately owned clinics, the smart people started to pay attention.
My first day, I took the drug test, paid the money, up front, and sat down with a “drug counselor” lady for 10 minutes while the urine test simmered. At no point did the counselor advise me that methadone is every bit as addictive as heroin. There were no warnings about ratcheting up my dose so high that getting off the shit would take a fucking miracle, or that the detox would SUCK SO BAD, that I would seriously consider taking the bridge.
There was no mention of anything that sounded even remotely negative or cautionary during that thorough 10 minute assessment. What she did say was that I would be getting 30mg today and if that wasn’t enough to take my “Symptoms” away I could increase the dose by 10mg tomorrow and then 5mg a day thereafter. Have a nice day, get out of my office. NEXT!
The next day I went to the clinic, walked up to the window, showed my ID and smiled politely at the lady behind the glass. She goodmorninged me and asked if I was having any symptoms and would I like the 10mg topper. I wasn’t, and I didn’t need more, but…
Let me pause here to shine the appropriate light on how absurd her question was, and therefore the entire concept of methadone treatment.
Drug addicts don’t say no thank you, to more drugs. EVER. Never, ever, ever…ever. Once you grasp this simple truth the insanity of methadone clinics and all the other drug replacement treatment ideas should become clear. And yet we persist in this practice. Why? Why do we continue down a path of treatment for a huge segment of our society who are mostly young, poor and come from broken homes that…
#1, makes no damn sense, and
#2, clearly isn’t working?
Here’s another question. Why do we, when the treatment our system has prescribed fails, then decide to throw these desperate young people into jail, in alarming numbers? I thought they were sick? Isn’t that why we gave them the medicine? The methadone? Because they were sick?
“Well”, you say, “they broke the law. They have to answer to society for their crimes.” Ok, then answer me this. What if a cancer patient was undergoing treatment with a drug that caused psychotic breaks in a small percentage of people. Let’s say this person, who is suffering with a disease, and is being treated with a medication, has a psychotic break and punches the nurse in the face, knocking out several teeth and causing a concussion. Would we throw this unfortunate soul in jail for an act that would almost always constitute a serious crime? Of course not.
Well then why do we throw addicts into jail for relatively minor crimes, usually of a non-violent nature; Crimes like theft and forgery, when we have prescribed them a medication to treat their disease that have known adverse reactions that effect 100% of patients. Not a small fraction, but all those who take this medicine. Those side effects being euphoria, decreased inhibition, cognitive distortion and decreased decision-making ability?
Drug offenders make up the largest segment of the prison population by a mile. I’m not going to quote numbers. I don’t have to. You already know. Besides you have google, look it up.
Anyway, I was on methadone. And at first, it really did seem like a wonder drug. I wasn’t sick. I had a nice buzz rolling, and if you took some Xanax and smoked a joint, you were pretty fucked up!
You see, again, that’s the problem with MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) It assumes, for some shockingly naïve reason, that a drug addict will take their medicine as prescribed and not mix it with other drugs. Again, I refer you to the definition of a drug addict. I mean, it’s in the name for Christ sake.
The opiate antagonist, or blocking agent, in methadone occupies the receptor sites on neurons that heroin or other opiates (Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Morphine, Dilaudid–etcetera, etcetera) would normally bind to. In this way, the good opiate methadone, replaces the other bad opiates and steals their lunch money. Only, neither methadone nor Suboxone nor Sebutex nor Sublicade do anything to block the plethora of other drugs out there to choose from, and mixes quite well with most of them creating a synergistic euphoria that is more fun than the separate drugs taken on their own. And you don’t even need to mix methadone and it’s many cousins with illegal drugs to get this effect. Beer works just fine. Have a few cold ones with your methadone and you’ll forget your name.
This is a complex problem with lots of differing opinions and grey areas, to be sure. But almost 70,000 mostly young people died last year from drug overdoses, almost 70% of which were directly linked to pharmaceutical drugs like Methadone.
That number has been steadily rising for almost 50 years with almost no progress in the “War on Drugs” Remember those words? Don’t hear them spoken too much these days.
I’m just sayin’