Technological Shortcuts to Social Change

By Amitai Etzioni; Richard Remp | Go to book overview

1
METHADONE: A SHORTCUT FOR THE TREATMENT OF HEROIN ADDICTION?

INTRODUCTION

Methadone is a long-acting narcotic which, given in sufficient doses, is reported to block the euphorigenic effects of heroin and other opiates. The drug has long been used in small doses or rapidly decreasing doses for withdrawal treatment of drug addicts. Only recently, prolonged, relatively highdosage maintenance on methadone has been medically attempted in order to keep people off heroin, as distinct from just getting them to break the habit of using it.1

The pioneering work with methadone as a maintenance drug was conducted by Dr. Vincent Dole and Dr. Marie Nyswander. The program was launched at Rockefeller University with a grant from the New York City Health Research Council and later continued at Beth Israel Medical Center under other grants. By mid-1972, methadone maintenance programs were operating in most of the major cities in the United States.

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The use of methadone as a therapy for heroin addiction is discussed in Nat Hentoff, A Doctor Among the Addicts ( New York: Rand McNally and Co., 1968), and Gertrude Samuels , "Methadone -- Fighting Fire With Fire," New York Times, October 15, 1967. For a comparative description of a methadone treatment program and seven other therapy programs, see Judith Calof, A Study of Voluntary Treatment Programs for Narcotic Addicts, 2 pts. ( New York: Community Service Society of New York, 1969) For a review of the medical and legal controversy surrounding methadone maintenance see Paul D. Gewirtz, "Methadone Maintenance for Heroin Addicts," The Yale Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 7 ( June 1969), pp. 1175-1211. An examination of the nature and effects of the effort to control addiction through legal penalties, which has prevailed in the United States since the 1920 s, is provided by Alfred R. Lindesmith, The Addict and the Law ( Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1964).

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