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Letters to the Editor (Dec. 9 edition)

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Dear Editor,

I think it's great that CL is bringing attention to the sharp increase in opiate abuse, particularly heroin, that is spreading through Charlotte and the rest of N.C.

While I applaud the focus on detox programs and naloxone —­ used for when someone has already overdosed — I'm puzzled at the article's lack of mentioning one of the more successfully used methods to combat heroin addiction: methadone. Methadone is used to help "eliminate opiate withdrawal symptoms, relieve opiate withdrawal sickness, and block the effects of illicit opiate use." Furthermore, studies have conclusively shown methadone treatment to be more effective than detox programs.

Methadone treatment centers offer many addicts a chance to regain their lives, combining treatment with required behavioral counseling. I have seen methadone treatment help some addicts who, before starting methadone, were homeless, jailed, and perhaps well on their own ways to overdosing. After 1.5 years on methadone, these same people are now living healthy, functional lives, working 40 hours a week, and are once again able to be active members of their families as well as society at large. While this is not the case for everyone, I think it shows that methadone, for some people, is a more effective means for breaking addiction than detox programs (which I've seen these people re-enter and relapse on on a few occasions).

While methadone does pose its own risks, I think the clear benefit of the treatment is an immediate lack of craving for heroin or any other opiates after the user receives their first dose. Methadone can also be a hassle in terms of cost (around $10 per day, though it may depend on which clinic you go to) and you have to go to the clinic everyday to receive your dose (at least when starting out). However, the cost and inconvenience of methadone pales in comparison to that of obtaining heroin on a daily basis.

While a stigma surrounds addicts, another stigma often surrounds methadone users. Many people succeed with detox programs and group therapy, but just as many people do not. Methadone is another way an addict can find a way out of the dark tunnel of addiction, and I think, for an issue dedicated to the problem of heroin use in Charlotte, CL should at the very least acknowledge methadone treatment as a viable option to users in need.

All the best, Coleen Muir

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