Methadone

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Methadone, what is it and where did it come from?
Foundations of Addiction

Methadone, what is it and where did it come from?
I think most people have heard of methadone, but may not really know what it is or what it does. I wanted to do a research paper that would be an educational tool for myself as a counselor and I chose a topic about which I know embarrassingly little. This paper will explore a lot of the questions I came to ask myself when we covered the topic of Methadone, and Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) in class. The following paper will explore the origins of Methadone in the United States, what it has been used for, the positive aspects of the drug, the stigma, and where we are now with methadone treatment. Methadone is a synthetic opioid primarily used to treat heroin and prescription opioid addition: it can be used to either detoxify opiate addicts or to maintain the addict on a stable dose with a goal of enabling him/her to live a safer, more functional life (Frank, 2011, p. 245). Dr. David Frank states the latter form of treatment is called methadone maintenance. My research uncovered the pioneer in the United States that founded the methadone maintenance treatment program. His name is Dr. Robert DuPont. In the late 60s, Dr. DuPont had been the head of community corrections and parole in Washington DC. At that time, the heroin epidemic was fueling the crime wave that led to Washington being labeled as “the crime capitol of the nation” (White & DuPont, 2010, para. 2). Convinced of the relationship between heroin addiction and criminal activity, Dr. DuPont conducted a study with a handful of college students (White & DuPont, 2010, para. 5). Dr. DuPont took urine samples from every man who entered the DC jail for a one-month period (PBS, 2000, para. 4). Dr. DuPont found that 44% of inmates entering the prison tested positive for heroin. The results of this study showed that the rise on crime and the crime epidemic were directly tied to the rise of heroin addition in the city. In a 2000 “Frontline” interview with Dr. DuPont, he recalled how he began the first methadone treatment study. He utilized a small sample of 15 patients from the DC jail and prescribed methadone. In his interview Dr. DuPont This study was also under the guidance of Vincent Dole, Marie Nyswander and Jerry Jaffe (White & DuPont, 2010, para. 6). In February of 1970, Dr. DuPont was appointed head of the citywide heroin addiction treatment program called the Narcotics Treatment Administration (NTA) (White & DuPont, 2010, p. 39). Within two months there were 2000 addicts in treatment in twelve methadone treatment centers (White & DuPont, 2010, p. 39). Marketed originally as a pain reliever, methadone maintenance treatment has been an effective therapy for intravenous heroin addition since Dr. DuPont’s initiative. (Paulozzi et al., 2009, p. 1541). It is considered to be a cornerstone in the management of opiate dependence and for the prevention of HIV/AIDS in opiate injectors (Uchtenhagen, 2011, p. 130). It reduces risk of heroin overdose and other complications such as blood borne infections (Paulozzi et al., 2009, p. 1541). MMT has been studied over forty years with demonstrated success in reducing opioid misuse, prisoner recidivism, transmission of disease, and improving the overall quality of addicts’ lives (Frank, 2011, p. 245). However, its effectiveness has always been hindered by: a negative stigma (Frank, 2011, p. 245), program characteristics, and the controversy over the level of methadone dosage used (Senbanjo, Wolff, Marshall, & Strang, 2008, p. 608). In recent years the focus of discussion has been on whether it is possible to discontinue methadone usage completely (Hiltunen, Eklund, & Borg, 2010, p. 106). MMT’ s treatment philosophy is representative of the “medical model” of addiction, and as such can be treated medically (Frank, 2011, p. 246). Dole and Nyswander published an article in 1967 that...
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