Permanent Parking Space

by The Discovering Alcoholic on January 27, 2008

methadoneWhile being a very strong advocate for medically assisted recovery, especially methadone maintenance treatment, I still realize there are some major shortcomings in the way these programs are set up. I ran across a term this morning in an article from Ireland about the problems they are facing with their methadone program that describes one of my reservations about the program perfectly: parking.

"There are approximately 9,200 people on methadone maintenance programmes in Dublin city alone and only 23 residential detoxification beds are available in the entire country for those who want to get off drugs completely." Merchant's Quay has voiced concern that too many people are now "parked" on methadone, with no resources available to develop their recovery any further.~ Independent.ie

The methadone programs in Europe tend be more publicly funded as I understand them, but the problem remains the same here. Once in a methadone program, the patient usually shows immediate improvement both in health and lifestyle, but from this point on they are for the most part parked in this position with nowhere else to go with their recovery. Much like the picture of the automated parking garage (cool, click the pic to see it on Gizmodo), there are no stairs or an elevator to get out of the garage and continue the journey… for some people it’s a permanent parking spot. Even worse, many patients become disenchanted with their lack of progress and fall back into their old habits.

By taking heed of the problems other countries are having with their programs we can improve ours. In the States, I see more concern on possible diversion of methadone from the treatment programs. While this does happen, it is considerably minor compared to the diversion of prescription drugs in general. In my humble opinion, we should be emphasizing the role of complete recovery in both the operation and regulation of our methadone programs.

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