Methadone has been used to treat heroin addiction for over thirty years. Methadone maintenance programs are utilized in more than thirty countries worldwide. Methadone is one of three drugs approved by the United States FDA for the maintenance treatment of opiate addiction, and the most widely studied approach to opiate addiction. This treatment is diminishing illegal opiate abuse and markedly decreasing patient criminality, as well as reducing risk behaviors associated with exposure to, and spread of, HIV/AIDS.
Approximately 44,000 individuals receive addiction treatment and other health related services in the methadone facilities in New York. Methadone blocks the effects of heroin and other opiates. Opiate euphoria is absent and withdrawal symptoms are eliminated. Craving for opiates is effectively diminished. The ability to focus on daily life activities and goals is restored. The low cost per dose makes it suitable for use in outpatient settings.
Nurses play a central role in the clinics and have identified health conditions which the patients present (heart, lung, kidney, neurological diseases and sexually transmitted diseases.)
Nurses are ethically bound to safeguard treatment of patients, and the quality of patient care. Altering access to treatment, or the availability of facilities, is not prudent until other treatment resources have been identified that will provide the same comprehensive services that are now available in the established methadone maintenance programs.
NYSNAs recommendation is to support the access to and treatment of opiate addiction that methadone maintenance programs provide.
This statement was developed for the association under the leadership of the Peer Assistance Committee.
For more information on nursing practice, contact NYSNA's Education, Practice and Research Program at 518.782.9400, ext. 282 or by e-mail.