I love Bill and have enormous respect for him. This is not the first time I’ve heard him express these opinions
and I respect where he’s coming from, but it’s just not been my 18 years experience in Southeastern and central Michigan. Just last week I admitted another 19 year old who had been going to a dosing clinic, getting no real counseling, no real recovery and little help when he asked to be detoxed so that he could pursue drug-free recovery. These are the kinds of stories I hear without exception. I recognize that my contact might be limited to a non-representative sample, but I’ve never even heard someone say something like, “Other people were doing well on it, but it wasn’t for me.” or “The people there really cared and treated me well, but I decided I needed something else.” I’ve yet to meet a person on methadone at a professional conference as a success story. I’ve interviewed countless professionals seeking to leave methadone clinics–including people who don’t have any connection to 12 step recovery. Methadone seems to be the dominant approach in the U.K. and it appears to be wrought with the same kinds of problems I see locally and the same pessimism about the capacity of opiate addicts to recover.
It’s a crime if there are all sorts of great methadone recovery stories and stigma is preventing them from being heard, but I’m skeptical.
Bill has a history of doing a great job of delivering difficult messages to drug-free treatment providers. Methadone providers need to be challenged in the same manner. If drug-assisted treatment is ever to have a place in a recovery-oriented system of care, it seems to me that the providers in my area need a dramatic culture change.
UPDATE: Just to be sure that my position is understood. I’m not advocating the abolition of methadone.
Here’s something I wrote in a previous post: “All I want is a day when addicts are offered recovery oriented treatment of an adequate duration and intensity. I have no problem with drug-assisted treatment being offered. Give the client accurate information and let them choose.”
Another: “Once again, I’d welcome a day when addicts are offered recovery oriented treatment of an adequate duration and intensity and have the opportunity to choose for themselves.”
It’s also worth noting that there is a link between AA and methadone.