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Methadone Becoming More Widely Used in Florida as Prescription Drug Abuse Grows


Methadone, long used to treat heroin addiction, is now becoming a popular tool in the fight against prescription drug abuse in Florida. A state review last year concluded that more methadone clinics and satellite offices will be needed to deal with the growing number of patients addicted to prescription drugs.

The News-Press reports that counselors and administrators at Operation PAR (Parental Awareness and Responsibility) in North Fort Myers, FL, a methadone-replacement treatment center, estimate that 85 percent of patients today are addicted to painkillers. Eileen Ball, Program Director at PAR’s clinic in Lee County, told the newspaper, “Every time they close down a ‘pill mill,’ the clinic traffic goes up.”

The article notes that a person using methadone becomes dependent on it, but it can help a person to stop using illicit drugs without suffering from withdrawal sickness. Treatment usually runs $84 to $140 a week, depending on the dose. Medicaid covers the cost.

Methadone treatment has drawbacks, the article states. A person receiving methadone needs to make daily trips to a clinic, which are often out of the way. There are also a growing number of babies being born dependent on methadone. An earlier investigation by the newspaper found that the number of drug-dependent newborns, many with mothers who were using methadone, rose 657 percent between 2005 and 2009 in Lee County. Statewide, the number of drug-dependent newborns almost tripled.

Government estimates indicate that the average duration of methadone treatment is seven years, the newspaper reports. Gary Wenner, an administrator at Operation PAR, told the newspaper that 30 percent of his clinic’s patients stay on it for life.

16 Responses to this article

  1. Luke Thomas / September 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Methadone is just as addictive as heroin.

  2. Avatar of Bobby-G
    Bobby-G / February 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Anyone know private practice doc for methadone maintenance /treatment?

  3. Avatar of Pete H. - Tampa, Florida
    Pete H. - Tampa, Florida / December 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    According to an article in the New York Times dated July 9, 2012, methadone accounted for almost a third of the deaths caused by opioid pain relievers in 2009. It accounted for only 1.7% of the total number of prescriptions written for opioid pain killers but was involved with 31.4% of the overdose deaths and more than 40% of deaths attributable to a single drug. This is according to the National Vital Statistics System and the DEA. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “All evidence suggests that the increase in methadone deaths is related to the increased use of methadone to treat pain. There are plenty of safeer alternatives,”

    I am a counselor in a methadone clinic and do intakes, assessments and counseling, discharges and transfers…all of it. The biggest problem that I see is that many of the patient’s come to methadone clinics due to chronic pain issues. Methadone clinics are not supposed to admit patients looking for pain management solutions yet, because of the profit motive, the clinics accept anyone and do not perform adequate screening. The fact is that many pain management doctors are writing scripts for methadone and many are being diverted and sold for profit illegally on the streeet. Methadone may be effective as a pian mangement drug but it is not appropriate to be used this way – as evidenced by the statistics. Most overdose deaths are from addicts abusing mehtadone combined with other central nervous system depressants, especailly benzodiazapines and other opiates. Results are deadly.
    So who’s to blame? The worst culprits are the doctors writing scripts for pain and doctors allowing intakes of patients for pain.

    Methadone clinics were originally set up to get heroin junkies off the street and into a safer using modality. Harm Reduction. Pain mangement is not harm reduction. Doctors are killing people by writing scripts indiscriminantly without proper knowledge of addiction.
    By the way, I am also a recovering addict. Have a nice day.

  4. Avatar of Kathi B.
    Kathi B. / June 21, 2011 at 8:05 am

    I can’t believe this article written by your organization does not include ANY information regarding the alarming increase of deaths directly related to the monitored or illegal use of Methadone. At the very least, you should WARN the users of the DEADLY consequences. “ONE PILL CAN KILL.” Yes, this is a prescription drug, but you are sadly mistaken if you don’t think that it is out there on the street every day. There must be a better alternative. Methadone should be off the market and off the street.

  5. Avatar of Virginia
    Virginia / May 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    No, methadone is not “the” answer. But it is an answer for some. Years of fighting to stay sober with damaged brain chemistry and all of the damage done s a result of that can be avoided with properly handled methadone treatment. I worked at a methadone clinic for 11 years. Yes some abused it. But some also got sober, focused on recovery and then tapered down gradually without the major dteox effects and went on to live drug free. And many of those who stayed became more functional than being on the street. Money spent on methadone saves money in criminal justice and health costs. And it can save in the cost of human misery. Methadone in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It is the context in which it is used which makes the difference.

  6. Avatar of Bill Poel
    Bill Poel / May 26, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I’m amazed at this article touting Methadone as a good long term treatment option. They don’t talk about the damage it does to the human body or that to detox from it is worse than detoxing from Heroin. Quite a “cash cow” for those who dispense it. Methadone is not the answer.

  7. Avatar of So Sad
    So Sad / May 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    The sad truths are:
    1. It’s just as easy for incarcerated adults and juveniles to obtain drugs in prison as it is on the streets.
    2. Substituting one addictive substance for another only perpetuates the original addiction, and never actually treats the cause, nor provides any sort of real help for an addict.
    3. Just because methadone is legal, doesn’t mean it’s “good” for you, or a “better” alternative, which is exactly why prescription drug abuse has quickly become the most prominent addiction in our modern society. Since it’s not illegal to consume prescription drugs, and they’re prescribed by a doctor, the consequences can’t be as bad as heroin or cocaine, etc, right? WRONG.
    These people need addiction treatment and a strong program, not an expensive, drug-dependent bandaid.

  8. Avatar of Richard Watson
    Richard Watson / May 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Ah Methadeth gains yet another foothold

  9. S.R. Wayne / May 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Once again WE the taxpayors get to foot the bill for addicts (the article said medicaid would pay for methadone treatment). Where did they get the money to go to the pill mills? A year of HARD LABOR in prison would solve a lot of drug problems.

  10. Avatar of Hal Taylor
    Hal Taylor / May 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    But they cut the funding for the Drug Farm program which did that. Who pays for a year in prison? The taxpayers, at $50,000.00 plus a year per inmate. You can get 50 – 100 addicts clean for that money in a year.

    Methadone can be an effective tool to help someone get off drugs in about a month. The clinic operators give way too high a dose and continue their patients on the drug for entirely too long though. They do this, not for the patient’s good, but for the good of their income. It is still chemical slavery.
    Methadone Detox good, Methadone Maintenance bad.

  11. Carlos / August 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    As far as I know, the significant numbers of most methadone clinics are funded by the patients themselves who pay a daily fee for the dose. Methadone has been substantially studied much more than any other approach to opiate dependent (possibly other substances too). Most people who have difficulty for the treatment of methadone are because they are not well aware of all of the assets and liabilities of the program. Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration has published a number of books regarding methadone treatment starting in the 1990s with The State Methadone Treatment Guidelines. In my opinion most methadone professionals have ignored the scientific studies in which clinics where supposed to follow. Ignoring scientific researched cause many myth and misinformation about the treatment and benefits of the treatment, creating many problems for patients who would benefit from the programs that are available. It is not surprising that when we do not understand a condition well our first response is fear. The issue of length of treatment continues to be controversy… I personally do not have any difficulty if the patient stays on methadone for the rest of his/her life if it benefits their conditions. As I continue to read through all of this post, it becomes clear to me that they are all professional opinions and they have little foundation in facts. The myth of methadone continues to exist because we are not well read in the scientific facts. I just read hearsay information or someone’s opinion whose expertise in science is questionable at best. Misinformed at worse, but there is nothing new about substance used disorder treatment which is mostly based on “authority without scientific foundation”. Yet most of us wouldn’t take an antibiotic unless the FDA has approved it for safety and efficacy. Neither Substance Use Disorder nor much of mental health treatment has been approved by any scientific authority; I think that this will be a trend for the future where much of current treatment is based on “professional” education, license, hunches, and intuition ignoring such little petty thing like scientific evidence. We still do not seem to understand what “evidence based treatment means”, and professionals have been talking about for three decades. I really feel sorry for our patients when personal opinion is dress as if it was authoritative facts.
    Of course this article is very short,it says little more than a title.

  12. Avatar of J.J.
    J.J. / February 1, 2013 at 9:46 am

    The pharmaceutical companies lobbied congress several years ago to allow doctors to write for high dose narcotics. There are many who need that treatment, but don’t blame the patients. The companies who make these pills pushed and pushed, and now there are millions of people who are addicted for life because of these policies. It all comes down to money and profit. More people addicted to your substance makes a higher bottom line.

  13. Avatar of ian
    ian / February 4, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    a large portion of these people, including me that are being treated at these clinics became addicted to narcotic pain meds by doctors or while very young and stupid and just happened to try the most addicting on the planet. walk in the shoes of an addict before you cast judgement on treatments. withdrawl is hell and no one, addict or not, can b expected to go thru that.

  14. J.J. / February 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Methadone is not a “cash cow”. The pill only costs about 12 cents each, without insurance. The oxycontin and like “time-release” drugs cost 13.00 per pill at the pharmacy.

  15. Avatar of cheryl
    cheryl / February 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    i cannot find a pharmacy to fill my sons methadone he was hit by a car 4 years ago and severly damaged his back they had him on oxycodone but it doesnt help his pain anymors and it costs to much but we cant find a pharmacy to fill his prescription

  16. Avatar of James Dandy
    James Dandy / June 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

    It can be prescribed under the guise of PAIN, but really, I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard this question. You got yourself in the situation of needing to take methadone, how about working the steps at a clinic and doing it the right way rather then looking for an EASIER way to fix your addiction. Some very intelligent comments posted above and some really really brainless ones as well. METHADONE is not good or bad in and of itself it is all in the context it is used. How about the person taking it , takes a little personal responsibility. 1 pill can kill, PLEASE, no one forced then to take the methadone. Sure it is dangerous, so is jabbing needles in your neck 11 times a day. All I am saying is get some education, without it you are nothing more then a person spewing fantasies that have no factual basis, and then get perpetuated by other people because ya know, everything you read on the internet has to be true … RIGHT

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