Barry R. McCaffrey: Methadone clinics are proven recovery tool for addicts

Barry McCaffrey weighs in on methadone in an opinion piece in a West Virginia paper. To his credit, he acknowledges being a board member of CRC Health Group, a for-profit corporation that claims to be the largest behavioral health care provider in the U.S. with more than $270 million in revenue last year and reported assets of $1.2 billion. They provide outpatient, residential and are a major methadone provider. It’s also worth acknowledging that McCaffrey has been a methadone advocate for a long time.

Now to the substance. The column was written in response to community concerns about a clinic in the state. (CRC Health Group owns 7 of the 8 methadone programs in WV.) I don’t have a problem with methadone being available to addicts who choose it, but I am troubled by the persistent myth that opiate addicts can’t recover with drug-free treatment. We don’t use methadone for opiate addicted health professionals. We use long-term treatment with intensive long-term monitoring and recovery support, and the outcomes are astonishing. Methadone is fine as one item on a comprehensive menu for clients to choose from, but I’m troubled by efforts to make methadone maintenance the default treatment. My experience in southeastern Michigan is that the complaints in the article above are credible.