Methadone Clinics

I find it very frustrating when officials get onto a political crusade about a medical treatment they really know nothing about. The issue about methadone keeps getting bat back and forth. It has frustrated for me to follow, but I do because it is relevant to my work and I am concerned that our patients are not going to get the treatment that they need. I think that LaPage is being short sighted in this. I feel that these clinics are being targeted as a way to save money because of the stigma attached to addiction. These are not bad people and they deserve treatment as much as anyone else. No one considers closing cancer clinics no matter how expensive or ineffective they are. Instead people are throwing donations at them to help keep them open.

I’ve been trying to close down methadone clinics since I’ve been governor. When it comes to methadone, every expert I’ve talked to says there’s no clinical aspect to it. … It’s no help. It has to be in a program that’s monitored by clinicians.


He came into office with this mission. He is coming at this problem with a closed mind. A closed mind is not going to help resolve the devastating problems that substance abuse is causing as it increases all across the country. First, there are plenty of experts speaking out about the benefits of these programs and they are talking to the press. Their support of the programs has been public. Why then has he never chosen to speak with them to get the other perspective? Because it’s not something that he wants to hear. Do we really want leaders who are going to bulldoze as blindly as this? And saying that these programs are not being monitored by clinicians is just hog wash. The state requires 1 therapy session per month. Acadia offers at least 1 a week. But we don’t have clinicians involved?

LePage said he is not convinced that methadone clinics serve patients properly, especially when it comes to counseling. He said he monitored a clinic several years ago for about 90 minutes and saw a continued parade of people in an out, at about 7-minute intervals.

People do not received their counseling the same time and place that they receive the methadone dosing. That’s just silly. People never receive their medications (of any kind) at the same time and place as they receive their therapy or doctor appointments. His observation is like standing at a pharmacy counter and accusing doctors of not doing lab work because blood isn’t being drawn at the same time and place that people are getting their medication. That’s just not how medicine is practiced in this country. Doesn’t matter what you’re getting treated for (addiction, urine infection, head aches, etc.), the process is always the same. You see your provider who assesses your case and reviews treatment options with you. Counseling is one of those options and that never has anything to do with the medication. Once a medication is prescribed, the script is sent to the pharmacy where the medication is filled and the patient collects it. Sound familiar? I’m sure you have all gone through this process.

Methadone clinics have a pharmacy where they give the methadone to the patients. The only difference in the process is that they have to come every day to get their medication rather than getting a 30 or 90 day supply. Imagine what it would be like to have to go to the pharmacy every day to get your migraine medication or blood pressure medication. How much would that suck? This unto itself is foolish. People are prescribed methadone (and other narcotics) to treat pain. Those patients receiving narcotics for pain can take home a 30 day supply. Same medication. The only difference is the diagnosis. Isn’t this discrimination? Isn’t this stigma? Want to save money? Let patients get their methadone like everyone else rather than requiring special facilities to be a pharmacy only for dispensing a single medication. Imagine how expensive it would be if we started doing that with a single kind of birth control. Imagine how out raged people would be!

These patients provide urine samples (something people in pain don’t have to do) while they are in the bathroom; where LaPage would not be able to see them. Just in the same way that I don’t get my blood drawn at the pharmacy to monitor my seizure medication. Why is it expected that you would be able to see the entire treatment process from a pharmacy? Having this pharmacy pass only the one medication is a breach of confidentiality. What happened to the HIPPA laws? As LaPage did, anyone can stand and see this line, knowing that every person in that line is their for methadone for substance abuse. That’s like being at the pharmacy and having to hold up a card that says “I am here to get my Lamictal for seizure disorder” while you stand in line.

“You can’t get a lot of therapy in seven minutes,” said LePage, who also expressed concern about patients driving after their methadone doses. LePage was not optimistic that the new rules on methadone clinics, which among other things ramp up paperwork and reporting requirements and introduce new dosage guidelines, will be approved by the federal Center Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“If it’s the federal government, forget it,” said LePage. “It won’t get approved.”

In an unrelated exchange, LePage and the WVOM radio hosts went on full attack against the Bangor Daily News this morning. Give it a listen and decide for yourself. If you’re interested, here’s the story they were talking about, along with a previous fact-check we did last week of LePage’s June town hall meeting in Richmond. — Christopher Cousins

I really could rant on this topic for hours. But the reality is that methadone treatment is more effective than many other medication treatments (such as most treatments for cancer). So, why are we even considering denying these people medical care? Stigma. I find it disgusting.

Research has demonstrated that substance abuse treatment is worth it! Go check it out for yourself: Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment

And who is NIDA? The National Institute of Drug Addiction. It’s only the US government’s research institute for drug abuse. They have declared that drug abuse treatment has value, but Lapage is declaring that ” every expert I’ve talked to says there’s no clinical aspect to it.” How about getting online and doing a little bit of basic research? Or is that too much fucking effort?

So, any way. Here’s the new articles that I’m quoting from. I couldn’t find anything more recent to quote him from even though I’m sure he’s still out there saying stupid shit.


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Posted on November 9, 2016, in mental health and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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