Friday, October 8, 2010

No Change, But Still Employed

This update is being posted earlier than usual, as I'm going to be away for a few days.

In 96 we moved to Pukekohe, a suburb about 15kms away and brought a large 5 bedroom property with our daughter and her husband.   The property also had a roomy one bedroom self contained detached flat on it, which we decided to rent to Shane.   This living arrangement gave him independence and responsibility for his own life.   Shane worked rotating weekly shifts of day, afternoon and nights, with 3 days off in between these shifts.   So with my part time job, there were days when he was afternoon and nights that I didn't see him.   But his addiction status and abuse of other substances hadn't changed, that was for sure.   He lived and breathed Methadone and the program, in fact his whole life revolved around it.   Ther were times we all worried, and wondered about his employment.   But he was still employed, so we guessed he must be ok at work.

Shane tended to be slightly worse on Methadone pick-up days, and maybe using an extra dose of Methadone was our explanation, and injecting his Methadone dose was also strongly suspected.   I did question Shane about his take home doses, and also if he was using the Methadone intravenously.   Of course, he denied both scenario's, especially using the Methadone intravenously, curtly informing me the Methadone was mixed with a syrup, therefore, it couldn't be injected.   No matter how hard I tried, gaining any sort of admission from Shane about anything was never accomplished, he always had an answer, just not an honest one.

Addiction had taught Shane, like most addicts to be very skilled and clever at manipulating situations and people, me included, this ability is a valuable survival technique to them, and one they never loose touch with.   Discussions with Shane at the time of disclosure allowed me some insight into the mind and life of an addict.   Shane stated then that all addicts do hold themselves responsible for being addicts, but none ever contemplate losing control when they originally start using drugs.   That an addict will do whatever it takes in their quest for drugs - they will lie, cheat, deceive and even steal from family and friends.   Shane wasn't proud having to admit these traits, it's just how it has to be to satisfy the craving for drugs, that's all.   So acknowledging and recognizing some of these traits in my addict son wasn't difficult, but actually accepting them was, and I didn't for sometime.

However, Shane didn't ever steal from us, and he always paid his flat rent etc on time.   Even the years he resided with us in our home and was on the unemployment benefit, he fronted up with his board every week, so Shane did retain some pride in himself by paying his way.   But knowing and even understanding all this didn't help, emotions can still run deep when dealing with an addicted loved one, anger, and frustration being two of them.   You soon learn to pick your battles and move on, or you wouldn't survive emotionally.   Having the gift of four beautiful grandchildren, and two of them at that time living on the same property was a wonderful distraction for me, and they did ease the stress of Shane addiction.

Inquiries at the time did reveal Shane was correct about the mixture, however, the Methadone mixture was altered towards the end of the 90's, and it could and was used intravenously by all, not just Shane on the program from that time on, that I did verify.   The Methadone mixture being alterted, I presumed to be a cost effective issue, maybe the syrup became to expensive.   Using the Methadone intravenously instead of orally was preferred by participants because it prompted a faster, more effective solution for uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.   It kind of defeats the purpose though, of a 'harm reduction' treatment program, HIV and Hepatitis C, needle sharing and all that.   Oh! I forgot, of course they do have needle exchange programs operating, but not through out NZ, only in some larger centres of NZ, but the cost of a syringe is only $3.00 at a pharmacy.   Addiction professionals within The Methadone Maintenance program acknowledges the mixture being changed did promote the intavenous use of Methadone.   Participants on, and entering this program are mainly intavenous drug users, so why have a treatment program that almost encourages the addict to continue their intavenous habit, begs questioning as well.

Shane's CADS caseworker appointments were 3 monthly, and his urine testing was done in conjunction with this visit at the clnic.   This was the only time for years that Shane attended a CADS clinic, and he received notification of appointment about 2 weeks in advance, so I guess that could be presumed random.   There was a 2-3 year period though that Shane went to a Diagnostic laboratory, not the CADS clnic for urine testing.   I don't really know why, Shane didn't eleborate when asked.

Shane had various CADS caseworkers over the years, and very few of them, in fact only 2 were certified addiction counsellors, so Shane received very little if any psychological counselling over that 14 years on the program.   Most addicts entering The Methadone Maintenance program are burdened with psychological problems, they suffer low self esteem, and have self worth issues, which aren't professionally addressed at all within this treatment program.   All these psychological issues become a bigger burden, and are accentuated with becoming addicted to Methadone.   I think this treatment program has lost sight of the fact that addiction is a mental and spiritual problem, as well as a physical problem.   In other words, you can't heal the body without healing the mind as well.   So professional counselling for participants must become a top priority within this treatment program, and this is another aspect of my campaign.

In a future posting I will put forward a detailed plan outlining how these changes and new measures to The Methadone Maintenance programs NZ operation can be financially achieved, and also with only a minimal short term increase to the present Government funding schedule   The priority and importance of this campaign will be to indicate that the programs present format and it's operational services do need restructuring to premote a safer, higher success rate for participants in treatment.   This treatment programs future long term goal has to be improved to encourage and promote abstinence not just maintenance.

Thought I would give you all a break and make this posting a bit shorter.   Catch you all next week with an update.


  1. I'm so grateful you are sharing this story. My daughter has been an addict for almost 12 years now, I have taken two of her children away. She has been in MMT three times, relapsed the first two after being weaned off methadone. This time, she has been on MMT for four years, and goes around saying she is clean.

    I don't quite see it that way. To me, she traded one letter of the alphabet for another, an outlook I have been vilified for having. I see it that she traded doPe for doSe. Really, to me there is no difference, other than one is legal and one is not.

    In the U.S., many clinics are privately owned and are open strictly for the money. They cost between $80 and $120 a week and do NOT like to wean their customers off methadone at all.

    The one my daughter attends now is also a clinic, does not really have take home's, and insists on counseling, however, her medical card (and our taxes) pay for her treatment. I still see no effort to wean away from the methadone.

    Her behavior really hasn't changed. Her entire day revolves around getting to the clinic (an hour away - she has no car).

    her brain on methadone is not a pretty sight. She has put on over 100 pounds. She still has the 'junkie' mentality, still makes bad decisions, and still nods off.

    I have repeatedly said that I know that she uses on top of the methadone, and have been told repeatedly that it is impossible to do that. what utter and complete bullshit.

    Anyway, I am glad to know I am not the only one out here who doesn't believe that MMT is okay. It may keep them off heroin, but it doesn't really help them, and what methadone does to the brain and body is not good.

    Again, thank you for sharing.

  2. I agree 100%. I have been thinking a lot about treatment lately, and the ways to improve it. I really like your campaign here!

  3. Thank you both for your support. It's not easy making changes to anything in any country. But I know with Shane being on the MMT program for 14 yrs that changes within this program in NZ have to be made, and I'm going to do my best to achieve that. Methadone may solve one problem, which I cant really fatham out what that might be, but it creates so many more along the way. Once again, thank you all for reading my story, and keep the comments coming in on future postings.