Comments for: Will bill capping MaineCare reimbursement for methadone treatment jeopardize addicts’ recovery?

Posted May 27, 2012, at 8:43 p.m.

WESTBROOK | Their stories are different, but the bottom line is the same. Opiate addicts say methadone, the synthetic drug used in maintenance treatment of drug addiction in the United States since the 1960s, stops their cravings without creating the effects of a “high.” And that, they say, has …

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  • Anonymous

    A person does not choose to be a diabetic.  It is ignorant to make such a comparison with a junkie who CHOSE to do the drugs that they got addicted to..  These people were fully aware of what the consequences would be if they started taking drugs (unless they lived under a rock their whole lives), and yet they made the choice to do them.

    I am baffled by the need to give them methadone in the first place.  Addicts should be given a safe place to go cold turkey, get dried out, and then go to counseling.  That’s what they do with alcoholics.  You don’t see an alcoholic being treated with artificial alcohol.

    • Anonymous

      Alcoholics are are treated with Vivitrol, Campral and Antabuse.

      • Anonymous

        Google is a wonderful thing….you can actually learn a thing or two BEFORE you pass judgement.

        • Anonymous

           Last time I checked I was a TAXPAYER in this state and what I see is a huge expense for something that I should not have to pay for for years and years.   These people made a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to use addicting drugs, and if it upsets you that I’m not on your pity bandwagon then that’s just too bad for you.

          If a addict can’t get beyond their addiction to drugs (and to methadone) in 2 years time then as far as I’m concerned they should have to pay for their continuing treatments themselves. 

          And concerning those drugs you quoted for alcohol abuse.  Do patients have to come to a clinic every day to take them?   Do they get paid for their mileage, even when they’re riding with someone?  Do the taxpayers pay $58 dollars for every dose they take 7 days a week, 365 days a year?  If they do, then I will stand corrected.

          Since I pay taxes, and I live in America, I have a right to my own opinion about any issue that involves MY money. You call it “passing judgement”, but I call it  “A taxpayer that’s fed up with having to pay for someone else’s irresponsible choices”.   Maybe YOU should go on Google and look it up.  You’d be surprised by what YOU’D LEARN about it.

                 

          • Anonymous

            First, I have no problem with the 2 year cap. No pity bandwagon here. Secondly, if Mainecare is paying for the aforementioned drugs for alcoholism treatment then, yes, they are getting  paid for their mileage. No, they don’t pay $58 for every dose they take and Mainecare doesn’t pay $58 for every dose for methadone patients either. Again,
            Google is a wonderful thing.

          • Anonymous

            How about a two week cap?…Close them down now they are a waste.

          • Anonymous

             From the article – “MaineCare pays $58 per person for 367 clients, CAP Quality Care Director Susan Sullivan said”.

            Oh, I forgot about the $2.00 co-pay. 

          • Anonymous

            Yep, $58…..per week

          • Anonymous

            I don’t care if it’s $58.00 a decade.  It’s still a waste of my tax dollars.

          • OldWench

            So is removing a piece of art from the Dept. of Labor, witch hunt voter fraud investigations, cushy government jobs being given to LePage’s relatives and a vast number of other things.  Don’t like paying taxes then move to another country.

          • Anonymous

            Did I say that I was ok with all the other wasteful spending that’s going on?  Did I say that methadone treatment was the only wasteful expenditure? NO I DIDN’T.  I also have opinions about all the other wasteful expenditures that are paid from my pocket, and I do/ will post comments about them just like I did here.

          • OldWench

            One way or another you are going to pay.  Methadone treatment is much cheaper than it costs to put someone in jail.  Without methadone an addict WILL steal and do anything they have to in order to “get well.”

          • Anonymous

            OldWrench you have your opinion and I have mine.  I’m not going to keep  going back and forth with you on this topic.  I’ve “liked” many of your comments in the past, but I just don’t agree with your current one.  Can we just agree to disagree?

          • OldWench

            Yes, we can agree to disagree…and I am very, very passionate about this issue.  My best friend died thanks to opiate addiction.  He was in law school…absolutely brilliant, came from a great family and was such a good person…until he got into a car accident and went on pain medication.  Turns out he had an addictive personality and it destroyed his life and ultimately took it.  Every addict is someone’s loved one…their son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, friend.  It’s easy to hate on people without a name or face and without knowing them or their situation.  Many addicts who started using recreationally are trauma survivors of child abuse, rape, molestation, etc.  These people are already broken and it takes time to help them put themselves back together.  But for the grace of God it could be your or yours…remember that.

          • Anonymous

             I am so sorry for your loss. That must have been terrible for you.

            To be perfectly honest, The methadone situation doesn’t bother me half as much as the lazy slackers, women having child upon child while on welfare, and people who are committing fraud in order to get MaineCare and other benefits.  I think that they are a HUGE drain on the MaineCare system. The methadone costs are a drop in the bucket compared to that.  Good luck to you.

          • OldWench

            The majority of the cost is for the counseling and group treatment.  Methadone is actually quite cheap, which is why it is the treatment of choice for opiate addicts.

          • Anonymous

            I think Maine care needs to stop footing the bill for all mileage then…..private insurance doesn’t foot the bill for mileage….Maybe the for profit clinics can round up patients on their dime…

          • OldWench

            They could if all the communities with serious problems with opiate addiction would allow local clinics.

          • OldWench

            The medications for alcoholism are actually much more expensive than methadone.

          • Guest

            Then move to another country.

          • Anonymous

             Oh my… How original!

          • Anonymous

            As much as it cost to keep these people supplied it is a drop in the bucket compared to locking them up in our prison industrial complex. Yet this is the end result to putting addicts out on the street without medication. Do you want your next door neighbor paying street prices for opiates? What that will cost you is your mothers purse or perhaps your copper tubing. Then a tour of Maine’s court system that has run out of money for public defence.  Then who knows how much the privatized penal system will cost. The result of sending medical pataints to prison will result in more crime being performed medical patiants. The cost to society will be more than what is being spent on metadone. OH by the way more people die from alcohol withdrawal than all the other drug put together. This is recovery 101 you might try reading some books before you establish yourself as an expert.   

          • Anonymous

            I never said I was an expert.  Learn to read.  While you’re at it, learn how to spell too.

      • Anonymous

        Not all of them, some just stop drinking, on their own, with the help of AA or a support group of some sort. I did’nt have to google that

        • Anonymous

          Agreed….many people have, in fact. MAT is not always required but it is often useful.

        • Anonymous

           Very true.  It’s called taking responsibility for your own recovery.  For profit methadone clinics that make their money off the backs of the taxpayers don’t want to hear about that though.  They want the addicts to keep on coming time and time again for years at a time.  It’s their job security.

        • OldWench

          Actually, chronic alcoholics can’t just stop drinking cold turkey because it can actually KILL them.  I’m all for AA, but you are incredibly foolish to think that everyone can just quit that easily.  Addiction is a disease just like diabetes is a disease.  People who are diabetic figure out they are diabetic because they have a poor diet and eat unhealthy foods.  Addicts figure out they are addicts because they also put something in their system that is not healthy for them.  Often times addicts become addicted after taking pain medication prescribed to them by a doctor.  Alcoholics don’t know they will become alcoholics before it happens.

          • Anonymous

            Unless its type one…..people can be born with diabetes…..

          • OldWench

            People who are addicts are also born with an addictive personality…they just don’t know it until they were injured and had to take pain killers after surgery, started drinking alcohol or used illicit drugs.

          • Dan Troop

            “Actually, chronic alcoholics can’t just stop drinking cold turkey because it can actually KILL them.” This claim is so false it isn’t even funny.

            “Often times addicts become addicted after taking pain medication prescribed to them by a doctor.” This claim is aslo false. It is however used by a great many addicts and social worker to gain sympathy. Although there are some individuals who become addicted after being prescribed opiates for pain managment, the majority of addicts become addicted through recreational drug us and them fake pain in order to obtain legally prescribed opiates to further feed their addiction.

            Claiming you don’t get high from methadone is also just as false as claiming you don’t get high from Suboxone.

            The first step in any addiction is truly wanting to end your addiciton. Once you have reached that step everything else is downhill. If you can’t complete that task in 24 months, you really didn’t start at step one!

          • OldWench

            Care to state your credentials for your claims?  Apparently my two college degrees, substance abuse education, the AMA, APA and all the professionals are wrong just because you claim so.  Educate yourself before you type.

            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-addiction/201001/alcohol-benzos-and-opiates-withdrawal-might-kill-you

          • Anonymous

            Not all education comes from books!

          • OldWench

            Well, in this case a formal education as a professional matters.  If not, anyone could practice medicine and diagnose people.  Thankfully, that is not the case, so Dan Troop clearly doesn’t know better than licensed professionals.

          • Anonymous

            I know chronic alcoholics that have quit w/o medication and it did not kill them,(notice I did’nt holler) Do I think that meds could be of help for someone going through detox, yes, however you are trying to use the exception as the rule. And am I really incredibly foolish or are ad hominem attacks the last stand of those who have run out of reasoned arguments.Methadone OD’s have been responsible for half the overdose deaths this past year. including young children. Some have advocated continuing the program because to not continue it will result in an increased cost to society due to crime and incarceration, but they neglect to point out the cost of litigation (which has been in the millions) directly related to methadone. These costs are not aborbed by the agencies or insurance companies they are passed on like all costs in business.  Maybe it is more cost effective to eliminate methadone altogether .

          • OldWench

            I know lifelong smokers who haven’t gotten lung cancer, too.  

            As a rule, opiate withdrawal isn’t life threatening…EXCEPT withdrawal from Methadone when someone is on a high dose for a long period of time.  Yeah, just ban methadone and kill people…that sounds like a brilliant plan.

          • Anonymous

            The conversation was re: alcohol withdrawal, w/o meds as in cold turkey. Now you want to talk about methadone. Have a nice day!

          • Anonymous

            @guest126:disqus , the many methadone overdoses seen in the last few years having little, if anything, to do with methadone treatment for addiction. Overdoses in this population is actually quite rare. There are procedures in place to reduce the risk of overdoses and it works very well.
            The vast majority of overdoses happen to those who use methadone recreationally and those who are taking it for pain. Methadone is very different from other opioids and that’s the reason it works so well to treat addiction. But it’s also the reason it causes deaths. Unfortunately too many doctors and patients don’t understand these differences and don’t use the drug the way it should be. The same goes for the kids who use it hoping to get high, taking a handful of pills like they would with another opiate. These issues of course have to be dealt with but the problem should not be confused with methadone used for addiction in a clinic setting. It’s a very different issue.

            Methadone for addiction is not used to deal with withdrawal symptoms as so many seem to think. It’s used to prevent relapse by stopping the cravings. Cravings don’t go away over time though and relapse is always a risk, especially in the first few years off drugs, and therefore methadone works best being used long term. Sure, all addicts could get off drugs. That’s really not a problem. The problem is not getting on them again.

          • Anonymous

            Thoughtful response, thanks. Was not aware methadone was commonly prescribed for pain specifically. I just wanted to point out that there are costs to the use of the drug as well as potential  costs to not having it available, as many argue. Ultimately public funding is limited and we have to make wise and effective use of what is available

      • Anonymous

        Was there different meds they were given before these drugs came onto the market, I wonder?

        It was said that quitting methadone cold turkey doesn’t cause death like alcohol or benzodiazapines can.

        How long do alcoholics who quit have to take those drugs to avoid the dt’s? Does it give them a high of some kind, to substitute the alcohol ‘high’?

        • OldWench

          Drugs for treating addiction and alcoholism typically block any “high.”  The methadone patients who look like zombies are taking benzos in addition to methadone.  It’s a deadly combination.  Sadly, there are some doctors who actually prescribe benzos on top of methadone.  Those are the methadone patients that people see and complain about.  The majority of patients are not like that and are able to be productive in life with this treatment.

    • Anonymous

      Are you absolutely certain that a person who got started on drugs at age 10 or 12 or 14 was “fully aware of what the consequences would be”?

      I disagree with your take on that. Some kids grow up in horrifying circumstances, surrounded by peers and adults who have extremely bad judgment. They get exposed to–invited to–horrible behaviors at a very young age, long before they have the capacity to make an informed decision.

      • Anonymous

        That doesn’t mean that I should be taxed to high heaven for their poor choices…..taking/abusing opiates is a choice…..good thing they are legal regulated prescription drugs….

      • Anonymous

        When I was 10, 12 and 14 years old there were plenty of hard drugs around, and I knew not to go near them.  I was taught this by my parents and in school.  I do realize that there are children who didn’t get the proper guidance from their parents or their peers, and yes, they do deserve help, but it still does not justify the use of methadone for years and years at a time.

           

    • Anonymous

       Nobody chooses to be a diabetic and nobody chooses to be an addict but sometimes bad choices, for whatever reason, gets us down the road of diabetes or addiction. There are a lot of people out there that have eaten their way to diabetes (type II) and yet there isn’t constant articles in the BDN about how horrible it is that these people get Mainecare along with a hundred comments about what low lives they are and how they should just be put in a cell somewhere.

      The road to addiction doesn’t always start with a conscious decision as so many seem to think. Many opiate addicts became addicted after being prescribed medication during illness or after an accident. It’s actually very common now days. Others started very young, at an age when you cannot fully comprehend the consequences of your actions, for reasons that are often much more complicated than being just a stupid choice.

      Your idea that addicts should detox and go to counseling would be great if it would work but fact is that it rarely does. Most people who turn to methadone treatment have already tried that, usually several times. Opiate addiction causes changes in the brain that unfortunately can’t be fixed with counseling and medication is needed to normalize the brain and stop the intense cravings that normally lead to relapse.
      Detox and counseling usually doesn’t work with alcoholics either. The failure rates is almost as high for them. For that reason scientists are trying hard to find a medication that will work as well for alcoholics as methadone does for opiate addicts. One drug, Vivitrol, has shown to be very effective in treating alcoholism. It works for the exact same reasons methadone works – it stops the cravings. And you know what? It’s covered by Mainecare too and it’s definitely no $58 a week. It’s over $1000/month! 3 months of Vivitrol treatment costs the same as a year of methadone treatment and that doesn’t include costs for doctor visits and counseling.
      If cost is your concern your suggestion of detox and counseling is a bad one. Inpatient detox, which is necessary, cost over $1000/day. Sometimes triple that amount. Counseling isn’t cheap either.

  • Anonymous

    I think it is the Drs. responsiblity to get the addict off of ALL drugs.  Cold turkey,  help and support will go along way toward this as a friend of mine in Nam proved.  A person has to have a reason to quit doing anything, if they don’t they will not quit no matter what is offered to them.  Only the unborn are the ones who did not have a choice and they are getting weaned once they are born.  Why should society pay for a drug for an addict?  Going cold turkey once is all society  should have to pay. 

    • Jack Forbush

      It’s the Doctor’s responsibility?  Give me a break.

      • Anonymous

        Saying it is the Drs responsibility, isn’t that part of the oath they take, to make people healthy?  You can’t do that by making them dependent on another drug.  Only my opinion.

      • Guest

        Dr.s are to blame for in many instances, they create the problem for many.

  • Now that this  Cap is law,  it will be fun to watch all the folks “cured” once the the blank check is torn up and the freebies end.

  • Old Bear

    Just switching one drug for another. Thanks mainecare!!!!

  • Anonymous

    My husband’s ex-wife is a life-long drug addict. There is no amount of rehab that will fix her. I endured over 10 years of harrassment while I helped to raise her abused and neglected children. There were almost 3 years of peace while she was getting suboxone treatment. As soon as she realized she was getting tapered off she got into the bath salts and we all had suffer the consequences of her behavior. Her home was unbearable for my step-daughter, she started calling me on the phone again and ranting, even though I have nothing to do with her.

    I hate this woman’s guts and wouldn’t spit on her if she was on fire! But it makes my life and the life of my step-children, their children and my biological children a lot safer when she is medicated for her incurable addiction.

    • OldWench

      Thank you for sharing that.  You have illustrated exactly why this cap is a bad idea.  Every addict has family and friends who do suffer because of the addiction of others.  Family and friends are the first ones an addict steals from and/or becomes violent with.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds like custody of children should go solely to your husband……If she is “incurable” then why should Mainecare keep paying for treatment?

      • OldWench

        Her husband probably does have sole custody.  Sure…don’t treat the woman so she can torment everyone around her, steal from them, cause more harm to her kids and create another generation of damaged people who turn to drugs and just repeat the cycle.

    • Anonymous

       Maybe it would have been better if she wasn’t forced to taper off Suboxone. Forced tapers are almost always a recipe for disaster.

  • Guest

    The only thing it will effect is the income of their legalized drug dealer.  If they go through cold turkey withdrawal enough times they might just learn to stay clean. It’s like training a dog with a shock collar. They will learn by association. BBBZZZZZZZZZZZ!

  • 4afishandfingerpie

    ” Each MaineCare client must pay a $2 co-payment” The leaches don’t even pay that…Ask any pharmacist! They don’t have to pay if they claim they don’t have the $!

    • Anonymous

       This isn’t filled in pharmacies so asking a pharmacist wouldn’t help much.

  • I have been a licensed pharmacist in in six states in over 50 years. I choose not to continue to obtain a license in Maine due to the over prescribing by doctors of controlled substances and the most out of control addiction problem from this and the easy access from Canada and transport in from Fla. and armed robberies in retail pharmacies.
    Yes a cap in Methadone treatment is needed. I have seen it work in other states and 2 years should be sufficient.

    • Jack Forbush

      So, it’s the Doctors fault then?  True, there are some physicians/nurse practitioners/physician assistants who indiscriminately prescribe such medications, but to make a blanket statement such as this is unfair and unwarranted.

    • Anonymous

       You have seen a 2 year cap on MMT in other states where it works? Really? Please mention a couple of these states.
      You do know that MMT has nothing to do with what you do as a pharmacist, right? MMT is a treatment done in a clinic. It’s not prescribed and filled in pharmacies.

  • Guest

    Always follow the money…
    Americans addiction to government programs will all come to an end when US bonds stop selling. Then you will see some withdrawls that drugs can’t cure.

  • Anonymous

    The article says that methadone treatment programs have been going on since they were started in NY in the 60’s for the heroin addicts.  I would think that something that has been going on for 50 years now would have plenty of information on just about EVERY aspect of it, from how long to keep them dosing, what counseling and support works, and who will go back to street drugs if they have to pay a couple extra bucks to stay on it for the rest of their lives.   Why is it even a question?

  • Anonymous

    ship them all to Mexico. plenty of drugs and nice weather. I am tired of supporting these losers.

  • Anonymous

    Out of all the people I have known throughout the years who have taken methadone ….only 2 used it to actually quit using drugs all together….the rest were using it when they weren’t able to find any drugs……for all the sucess stories we hear about there is an equal amount of failures if not more……

    • Anonymous

       Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone. It especially won’t work if you doesn’t want to get better. 35% do fail. But 65% do get better and that’s much higher than for any other treatment method.

      • sure if being on methadone for years is getting better alot of these people have been on it for5 or more years

  • Anonymous

    If  addictive drugs are the problem, how then can they be the solution? Just imagine how much progress in recovery addicts could make if they applied the same amount of energy they use procuring replacement and street drugs towards actual recovery from their disease.  Abstinence from all mind altering drugs must be achieved before substantial recovery can begin, otherwise the mental obsession and physical compulsion will never be put to rest.  Anything else is just switching seats on the Titanic. The ship is still going down. Self deception on this large scale is not something tax payers need to be funding. I do not believe it is in any way working toward the greater good.

    • Anonymous

       Clearly you don’t understand how methadone maintenance works. Those taking methadone are not addicted to it and take it to stop the compulsion and obsession. Although it’s an opioid it works very differently from other opioids which is why it works as a treatment and not just a continuation of the addiction. Methadone when used correctly TREATS the symptoms of addiction which helps the addict remain drug free and can work on getting their life in order. MMT has nothing in common with active addiction as some seem to think. The proof is in the pudding, really. Thousands of people live normal, healthy lives because they take a medication that treats the symptoms of addiction.  I don’t get how anyone can argue that that’s bad.

      • Anonymous

         Methadone is a drug is it not? Would you give an alcoholic a different brand or alcohol in order to recover from alcohol addiction? or would drugs  be the most logical method here as well.  For the addict, taking a drug as a means of “treatment” only perpetuates the addiction.  Obsession is relieved through abstinence, period. In time and with work, the compulsion will also leave. I wouldn’t want anyone out there to be under the impression that recovery from the disease of addiction would include drugs. It is a disease, and it does need treatment, but the medicine is 12 simple steps into reality. How can an addict remain drug free while taking a drug? That statement alone demonstrates your level of understanding. Try recovery.  It baffles me why people avoid the obvious solution. They deny themselves a real quality of life and a freedom they have never imagined.

      • Anonymous

        If it treats the symptoms of addiction and enables them to live normal, healthy lives, then perhaps they can do what the rest of us normal, healthy folk do: Pay for their medications by themselves.

    • Anonymous

       Well said fleabitarab!

  • Most people who try drugs don’t become addicts, those who do, hardly can be said to have a choice, they are almost universally people suffering from serious, and profound alienation, abuse, or mental health issues. Those people need our help if they are ever going to recover, the cost of their care otherwise, jail, hospitals etc. is much greater than the help we currently provide. My vote is to help, with every means possible including methadone.

  • Xerxies

    In my opinion, chemical addiction is a character flaw, one that cannot (most times) be fixed… Methadone is only exchanging one addiction for another, its track history in treating addiction is abysmal, almost non-existent.  Those who become either physically, or psychologically dependent on a chemical substance must have sufficient strength of will and character to overcome said addiction. Lacking this prerequisite strength is a recipe for failure and these people will simply continue to commit suicide by installment. In the animal kingdom it’s called natural selection…

  • Anonymous

    The hard truth is Methadone does not work! The only thing I have ever known this drug do is help people overdose and die.  All these clinics should be shut down.

    • Anonymous

      That’s the truth? Please show me any kind of study that shows that it doesn’t work and disproves all the studies and anecdotal evidence that shows that it does.
      Fact is that overdoses among MMT patients is actually quite rare so that is definitely no reason to shut any clinic down.

      • guess you never had a family member die of methadone overdose so some one elses death is unimportant to you

  • Anonymous

    If all those people facing the loss of methadone are voters, they might be able to change things at the next election. Seems LePage is doing his best to disenfranchise someone or some group every day.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but taking one drug to get off of another drug is just B.S. As it was stated yesterday $16 million dollars to give drugs to 3100 people? It needs to stop, we should not have to pay year after year for some a problem that seems to never go away!

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