I really hope they are willing to listen to the evidence

If you spend much time following news about addiction treatment, you’ll start to notice a pattern.

There’s a lot of skepticism about addiction as a disease and abstinence-based treatment. Somehow, addiction treatment has become a front in the culture wars and articles that attack 12 step recovery (this particular article earned he writer an award) or promote maintenance treatments get a lot of press.

You also get enthusiastic stories on maintenance treatments that challenge conventional thinking.

This story focuses on the use of hydromorphone (Dilaudid) to “treat” addiction, presenting it as medication that doesn’t really produce euphoria, leaving out that Dilaudid is powerful and sought after by people with opioid addiction. [trigger warning]

2b8137819ce7132ada7acbbc3e7afa00A new study says the drug used by Max, hydromorphone, is a powerful tool that could helps thousands of other Canadians battling opioid addiction.

. . .

“I’m not getting stoned, I’m not getting that kind of effect from it.”

. . .

Addiction researcher Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes says this trial is the first of its kind in the world and she is urging an expansion of clinics modeled on Vancouver’s Crosstown.

. . .

She says addiction should not be treated as a “second class” illness because of the social stigma attached to it.

She says access to drugs such as hydromorphone or even the medical equivalent of heroin are now proven to be the best form of treatment. And she said supplying the medication to patients in a controlled setting does not encourage people to use drugs.

“I really hope the government is willing to listen to the evidence. I really hope some people stop playing to the fear of what it means.This treatment is for those we are leaving behind, the poorest, the most vulnerable.”

I couldn’t agree more. Socio-economic class should not determine one’s access to treatment, or the kind of treatment one gets offered. All people with addiction should have access to the best treatment available. And, we should not play to the public’s fears.

So then, what’s the very next sentence in the article?

Researchers also point to other benefits from the trial, showing participants were much less likely to get involved in crime because they no longer had to scramble to pay for heroin. They also spent less time in emergency wards and were not as costly to the criminal justice system.

Why lower the bar? And, why lower the bar in a manner that plays to the public’s fears of people with addiction rather than their hopes?