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|Heroin, Morphine, and the Opiates|
Response to MMT Inmates - by Steven C.
The Killing of the Fourth Amendment - by Sean Francisco
Dear Methadone Today - Suzanne D.
TIP/TAP Series - MMT in Jails & Prisons - Nancy Rose (DONT Secretary)
NAMA Column - Joycelyn Woods
Doctor's Column - A parent asks about his daughter who is on methadone
After seeing the story in the latest Methadone Today about MMT inmates, I thought an article from the Orlando Sentinel (May 3, 1998) might be of interest. The article is the result of an incident at the Orange County Correctional Facility here in Orlando, Florida.
The inmate, Susan Bennett, 42, was jailed for forging prescriptions. She had an addiction to painkillers and was in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT). She was completely ignored, virtually untreated, and neglected by guards and the jail's medical staff. Her withdrawal (uncontrollable vomiting and defecating) culminated in a heart attack, resulting in her death. Her family sued Orange County and settled with them for $3 million.
Three LPNs were fired over the incident, and the article describes the resulting finger pointing. The nurses blame administration for not having enough medical staff, and administration said, "The issue with the death was that three or more nurses failed to perform their duties as nurses."
I know from some of my fellow MMT patients
at my clinic that here in Orange County, jail staff will not give any help
to someone jailed on methadone maintenance, no matter what the person's
dosage or time on methadone. I am originally from Massachusetts where
last I knew (8 years ago when I left), someone who is arrested can still
get their dose or at least be detoxed.
Editor's Note: When I hear someone describe withdrawal from opiates as a "bad case of the flu," I know that they have never withdrawn from them. One person described withdrawal as "a bad case of the flu, pneumonia, and a good ass-kicking all rolled into one." Although that gets a little closer, it still doesn't convey the depth of misery that this woman must have gone through before she died. If it's not cruel and unusual punishment, I would like to know what is. One of the nurses said that they have been told not to think of "them" as patients; they are inmates. Speaks volumes, does it not? I agree with Steven that it is disgraceful and despicable, and something needs to be done to prevent this from happening. Hopefully, the $3 million settlement will make jailers think before denying a patient's methadone.
Law enforcement, in the guise of the DEA, FBI, Customs, down to your local police departments are sharing in the profits from seizures to increased budgets. The Fourth Amendment just gets in their way. Like anything else in their way, they simply killed it or found new and clever ways around it. They did it at the expense of the people.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the persons or things to be seized."
The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to stop the government, i.e. police officials from having omnipotent power over the people and streets of our country. It should be the most mourned casualty of the war on drugs. It is just the first step. The Second Amendment has been under assault for decades, and it is the one thing that guarantees "We the People" have a defense against a government beyond our control. How much longer can the First through the Fourteenth Amendments stand?
As an expedient to their war on drugs, law enforcement officials have created "courier profiles." These profiles, in theory, identify the type of person likely to be involved in transporting or otherwise dealing in the drug trade. The result is that Joe and Mary Average are being accosted, detained, harassed, their money seized, and embarrassed by police for "looking like someone fitting a profile." A profile! Not a description from a credible witness to a crime whereby probable cause would exist.
Jill Darby, a flight attendant on a personal
trip, was at Stapleton airport in Denver. She was asked by a man
who failed to identify himself if he could search her purse and luggage.
To her the man did not look like a cop, so she refused to be searched.
Willie Jones owned a landscaping company. He was flying to Houston, TX to make a business purchase. Willie refused to be searched by the DEA agents accosting him. Once again, he was forcibly searched. The DEA agents found only the $9,000 cash with which he had planned to make his business purchase. The DEA "detained" the money. Willie was handed a slip of paper noting the seizure of "an undetermined amount of US currency." He asked the agents to count the money. They claimed it was against agency policy and refused. Willie is also a black man who fit a profile.
Hall of Fame baseball player, Joe Morgan, was making a phone call in the terminal of Los Angeles International Airport. An LAPD detective approached and handcuffed him from behind. Joe was interrogated and eventually released. His crime? Being a black man on a phone in an airport. Let's not forget--he fit a profile. He later won a $750,000 settlement.
You may ask--what's the point? The point is--according to law enforcement, we all fit a profile. These profiles are the invention of the badge toter in front of you, and they can be changed to suit any situation they like, whenever they like. It gives them the protective blanket of "probable cause" to do whatever they wish, without the aforementioned "sworn or affirmed" warrant.
These profiles claim: speeding, scrupulously adhering to traffic laws; tinted windows, un-tinted windows; making eye contact, avoiding eye contact; being the first off a plane, being the last off a plane, or being one of the ones in the middle group off a plane; dressing loudly, dressing conservatively, or just looking average and blending in is the profile of the doper. No matter what you happen to be doing at a given moment makes you fit the "profile of the moment." Fourth Amendment. . .May you rest in peace.
I am thirty years old, white, and I do not use or smuggle drugs. I own and drive a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham; it is a nice car. I wear a cowboy hat; it is a nice cowboy hat. I usually drive the speed limit in town. I thought the only profile I fit was that of a thirty-year-old white guy who wears a cowboy hat while driving his caddy. I was wrong. I seem to fit the profile of a thirty-year-old white guy wearing a cowboy hat driving his caddy. . . while smuggling drugs.
I was pulled over not long ago. It was around midnight, and I was on my way home from the ranch where I keep my horses. I was not speeding, all my lights work, and the car is legal in all respects. I was pulled over this night for no other reason than I fit this officer's profile.
The officer approached my car with his hand on his .40 caliber Glock. You can see caution was in order, as I am such a dangerous criminal. The officer reached my door and ordered me out of my car. This is usually the way things happen on the television show "COPS" just before you are arrested.
I asked why I was being pulled over.
I was informed that I was in an "area frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes."
I looked somewhat puzzled, but I handed him my valid Arizona driver's license,
current registration, and proof of insurance.
The officer ordered me to turn around and face my car. I did so and was patted down. He said it was for "My safety and yours". . . there was that probable cause. He went on to search my car. This was all after I had refused to give him consent.
The officer then told me that "ninety percent of the people who refuse to let me search their vehicle are carrying drugs." There was that nasty little profile again--invented on the spot to deny me my rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
The only thing the officer found was my cellular telephone. He asked why I had it and who I called. I told him it was none of his damned business, and I was rapidly growing tired of our little interchange. His only reply was, "It is a tool for drug dealers." There it was again--the profile had reared its ugly head.
Another police officer arrived to check the stop out. It happened to be a Sheriff's Deputy who has known me for awhile and keeps his horse where I keep mine. I was relieved to see him as my temper was on the verge of blowing. I did not want to catch an assault case for beating this asshole to a pulp.
The recently-arrived deputy greeted me with a handshake and a smile. He asked the Tucson officer who had me stopped what was going on. After they had talked out of my earshot, I was told I could go.
When I saw my "friend" at the ranch, he explained to me about "profiles." He said he didn't agree with them but they were here to stay. I had been pulled over because the officer didn't like the way I looked. It is just that simple. His own personal profile told him that I was involved in the drug trade. Wave goodbye to your Constitutional rights. Fourth Amendment. . .I am sorry to see you wounded so gravely. The rest of our rights are sitting like dominoes on a shaky table.
Editor's Note: Methadone patients
feel especially vulnerable when being stopped by the police when leaving
the clinic. Although we have a legal medication, some patients have
had their methadone dumped (apparently this amuses some officers).
If this happens to you, you may want to file a complaint.
Police may "pat-down" your clothing if they suspect a concealed weapon. Don't physically resist, but make it clear that you don't consent to any further search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.
For more on this issue, see ACLU Freedom Network - http://www.aclu.org
I am elated to read a paper from the patient's point of view, not hearing everything negative about my medication! You see, every time I make a mistake, it's the medication. Every time I fall asleep anywhere but the bed, I'm "nodding." It does not matter that I have twin girls, 13-months old, who are up at 5:30 a.m. If I forget to buy something at the store, it's my medication.
I was a practicing addict for four years--the only time I stopped was during my pregnancy, but as soon as the twins were born, I was off and running. Well, I knew my children deserved more, so a good friend took me to the clinic and waited with my children during intake.
That day saved my life. I don't wake up in the morning wondering, "Who can I borrow from? What present of the twins can I return for cash?" No, I get up, have coffee, feed the girls breakfast, and take care of myself. I put much more into personal hygiene than I used to; my children are no longer a burden--they are a joy. Instead of trying to get them back to sleep because I am too sick to deal with them, I want them to wake up. My house is clean, I don't go to stores to steal to return items for cash, I have a life! I care about things. When I was using, all I cared about was how to get money for the next blow. I now have clothes, my girls have clothes, and I don't sell their diapers.
But for every success story, you know there has to be a negative. From someone very close to me, I always hear how using methadone is just like using heroin. Although he sees the positive change, he is so against the medication.
In a previous issue, it was said in an article that people who down methadone are either ignorant or jealous. I strongly believe he is jealous. I don't get high every day, although people think I do. I use my medication to make my life as normal for my children and me as possible.
I want to thank my clinic, especially my counselor--without
her, some days I would have gone back to using. A year ago today,
I was the most miserable person; today, I want to wake up. I have
no thoughts of using.
TIP 20 (Matching Treatment to Patient Needs in Opioid Substitution Therapy), page 10, reminds treatment staff that "Among the most important factors to be understood when assessing the progress of an opioid addicted patient is the probability of relapse. . . . Studies have shown that roughly 80% of all patients resume daily use of opioids within the first year of leaving treatment . . . . [Opiate] addiction is a chronic relapsing condition that many people will battle for the rest of their lives."
With that in mind, "Some patients may need indefinite or lifetime methadone maintenance. . . these patients may be appropriate for medical maintenance, and they should be permitted to continue in this phase indefinitely..." (p. 47). For those who may not know what "medical maintenance" is: "Patients who have achieved a high degree of stability and are able to function effectively but who continue to need methadone to maintain this level of stability" are allowed to receive up to 6 days take home methadone and "typically are seen by their counselor or therapist once or twice a month" (p. 47).
So that there is no misunderstanding, NAMA and DONT's definition of medical maintenance is that the patient sees a doctor in a regular office setting once per month. The doctor writes for up to one month's worth of methadone (at his discretion) to be obtained at a pharmacy.
In TIP 1 (State Methadone Treatment Guidelines), page 119, under the chapter on "Treatment Duration", it says, "Patients should always be encouraged to remain in continuing treatment; pharmacotherapy should be reinstituted if and when a relapse has occurred, is feared, or is predicted" and "Because of the high relapse rate to heroin and the risk of...HIV infection...addicts should be encouraged to remain in methadone maintenance treatment indefinitely."
Page 120 continues after listing several studies, "It is clear that decisions about duration of treatment should be individualized, with any generalization favoring long-term maintenance. Indefinite treatment is appropriate for many patients who fit the criteria for chronic, intractable heroin addiction...The answer to the question, How long should methadone maintenance treatment last? is simple: as long as it needs to, or simply, long enough" (emphasis theirs).
TIP 1 summarizes: "Duration of methadone maintenance
treatment should be determined by an individualized decision-making process.
It must be stressed that long-term, even indefinite treatment is appropriate
for many methadone maintenance treatment patients!" (p. 123).
John Anderson who is president of Methadone Awareness and Advocacy Coalition (MAAC) in Kamloops, Canada reports there are now more than 100 people on methadone treatment in the Kamloops area (population 100,000). Together, MAAC and our sponsoring agency, The AIDS Society of Kamloops, has made a difference in the interior of BC. The Executive Director is very supportive of MAAC and the methadone program; with her help and NAMA's, we could break some stereotypes and dispel some of the myths surrounding methadone.
Meetings and Conferences
The First International Conference on Heroin Maintenance - Saturday, June 6, 1998 - 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. This conference will mark the first US presentation of the Swiss program by Professor Ambros Uchtenhagen, M.D., Ph.D. Principal Investigator of the Swiss National Project on the Medically Controlled Prescription of Narcotics.
Expanded Pharmacotherapies for the Treatment of Opiate Dependence - Friday, September 25, 1998 - 9 AM to 5 PM. Several countries are using opiates for maintenance treatment, including: codeine, palfium, morphine, buprenorphine and injectable methadone.
Place: New York Academy of Medicine
The National Letter Writing Campaign
In April you were asked to write your representative in Congress and May was your Senator. Now for June--write to your Governor, and if you live in a state where patients have to drive long distances, tell him that no one should have to go more than thirty miles to their program or a doctor--that this is above and beyond what is expected of anyone else in recovery and that patients should be putting their energies into their recovery, like restoring their family and getting employment instead of having to worry about getting their medication.
If you don't have one, you can get a copy of the draft letter from your local chapter (or use the one in the February Methadone Today. And, of course, don't forget to drop NAMA a line telling us that you wrote a letter and who you wrote it to, or you can tell your local chapter, and they will forward the information to NAMA.
National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
Frequently Asked Questions About Drugs
Basic Facts About the Drug War
Charts and Graphs about Drugs
Information on Alcohol
Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
Response to the Drug Enforcement Agency
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