More Addiction Specialists Accept Long-Term Methadone Use

Although lifelong methadone use remains controversial, many addiction-treatment facilities are utilizing the approach because of its proven effectiveness, the Toledo Blade reported Sept. 22.

Recently, Substance Abuse Services, Inc., in Toledo, Ohio, changed its strategy and began providing long-term methadone treatment to individuals addicted to heroin. Previously the facility gave methadone for only one year, using OxyContin and other opiates as maintenance treatment.

Ross Chaban, executive director of Substance Abuse Services, said statistics reflected a need for the change. According to Ohio treatment officials, the number of heroin-dependent individuals seeking help increased 42 percent to 6,878 from 2000 to 2002.

At the same time, drug misuse involving OxyContin and other opiates continues to increase throughout the state and nationwide.

Although the methadone treatment change at Substance Abuse Services reflects nationwide trends, the move remains controversial. Some critics argue that prescribing methadone is replacing one addicted drug with another, and that all addicted individuals should be eased off methadone.

"The leadership at the state was resistant to the concept of long-term methadone use," said Ted Zigler, chief executive officer of the Community Health Center in Akron. "But, in fact, 45 years of research and science have demonstrated that methadone maintenance is the single most successful treatment of narcotic addiction on the face of the earth."


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