When it comes to opiate dependence, why do methadone patients have to fight for inclusion within our nation’s drug court system? Treatment alternatives to incarceration save the taxpayers billions of dollars, and it can mean a world of difference in a person’s outlook and quality of life. Veterans receiving methadone for opiate addiction treatment in Texas and also most opiate addicts in New York can participate in drug court and treatment alternatives programs like TASC and TAIP. However, throughout most of the country it’s still a real struggle gaining acceptance of medication maintenance therapy (MMT).
Drug court judges often require methadone patients to taper off methadone quickly. However, a person’s choice for addiction treatment, including MMT, is guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, the National Drug Court Institute issued a fact sheet way back in 2002. It states that of all medications, methadone has been more studied than any other medication in the world. It cites the General Accounting Office’s dictum of 2002 stating that “…methadone is the most effective method available for treating heroin addiction.”
People who participate in >methadone treatment benefit from adjunctive services. Their general health is assessed including possible nutritional, infectious, or sexually transmitted diseases resulting from poor choices during their drug use. Addiction treatment counselors help clients recognize their reasons for using drugs in the first place. Clients improve their relationships with people they have been close to, especially if the relationships were jeopardized during periods of use. They also learn to identify their own emotional problems and insecurities so that they can feel good about themselves.
Drug courts or other treatment alternatives to incarceration likewise do much to bolster a person’s confidence. Receiving treatment and staying on the right side of the law teaches them how to fulfill their roles in the world around him. Specific problems—for example, the veterans seeking opiate addiction treatment in Texas with military-related trauma—can be addressed. When possible, MMT counselors make time to appear before a judge going to bat for their patients, convincing the court that medication maintenance using methadone is a valid treatment for addiction.
If you’re affected by legal stressors in your life, talk to your methadone counselor about the possibility of getting into your local drug court while continuing with MMT. Your counselor can steer you in the right direction so that you can get the help you need—without going to jail.