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Methadone: Is it Really a Proper Treatment for Heroin Addicts?
Methadone: Is it Really a Proper Treatment For Heroin Addicts?
Ericka LearFriday, September 14, 2007 Methadone has become the hot topic publicly due to it being finally accepted as a proper form of heroin and opiate addiction treatment. Universities and other medical institutions of learning have incorporated addiction into separate course studies, prior to the early part of this century, the only study on addiction in 4 years of medical school was approximately one hour in length, 3/4 of which was spent on alcohol addiction.
Public perception tends to fall behind on medical acceptance; until recently, the general consensus on depression and other mental health disorders was one of character defect, a flaw in willpower, or just plain laziness (i.e. "If they would just get up and start doing something, they'd be fine.") Many people still avidly believe today that addiction is only caused through choice and that society should not be responsible for the poor choices of another person. Interestingly, it should be noted that many medical disorders which plague our society are primarily based on a poor choice. Heart disease, differing types of cancers, diabetes (especially type II), and AIDS occur when the afflicted makes a choice in life which negatively affects health. Knowing this, it is interesting to see the differences in attitudes between the aforementioned diseases and addiction. How many people would turn out for a Relay for Life to fight addiction, or a telethon to raise money to improve addiction treatment?
That being said, methadone is currently considered by the medical community to be the gold standard for opiate addiction treatment. Why? It seems odd that physicians would treat heroin/opiate addiction with a synthetic opiate and those ignorant to the mechanics and progression of addiction believe that it is just trading one addiction for another.
The first problem we come across publicly is the tendency to combine dependence and addiction into one group. Dependence is when a patient ceases taking medication, when to do so causes a set of aggravating abnormal effects of withdrawal. It can be fatal in some medications when abruptly ceased. Addiction has a component of dependence within it, however there is an all-encompassing attribute of behavioral, physical, and emotional changes that occur specifically with it that does not occur when just dependent.
Next, the advent of the MRI proved the postulating theory of Dr Vincent Dole and Dr Marie Nyswander; that opiate addiction is a metabolic disorder which causes multiple changes in the brain and body which can be permanent. Opiates, when artificially administered with no source of physical pain, causes a decrease or cessation of endorphin function. Endorphins are chemicals that are released by the body that help to regulate a number of processes, most notably mood, sleep, motivation, stress, sexual drive, and hunger. When a disruption occurs in the system, then ra...