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Letter: Why should opioid-dependent people have to stop treatments to participate in drug court?
09202017 OPIOID EDITORIAL

Drug courts are progressively developing into the prominent treatment choice for nonviolent drug offenders. 

Methadone is shown to be one of the most useful treatments for opioid dependent patients. Given the current opioid crisis the U.S. is currently facing, the number of opioid dependent drug court participants continues to grow. 

Despite the mounting scholarly and peer-reviewed evidence supporting the success of a methadone prescription to treat opioid dependency, many drug courts continue to prevent participants from continuing methadone treatment when they begin drug court. 

This community problem could be improved by drug court policies being modified to include methadone medication-assisted treatment as an option for participants. 

As a community, we could bring much needed awareness to this problem by advocating for opioid-dependent patients by providing current research and education to our policy makers, local attorneys and judges. 

Hall County drug court proposes goals for the patient such as reducing their likelihood of recidivism and providing the necessary resources to stop use the use of illicit drugs. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medicines such as methadone, buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone have been shown to reduce heroin use and should be made available to individuals who could benefit from them. 

Medication-assisted treatment allows a patient to learn the necessary behavioral changes while alleviating powerful withdrawal symptoms that make it very difficult for the patient to focus on positive lifestyle changes.

If our community drug court will reconsider the ban on methadone treatment for opioid dependent drug court participants, we could see improved outcomes for the participants, our community, and help end the stigma for medication-assisted treatment. 

We would not require a diabetic to stop their insulin treatment in order to participate in drug court; therefore, it seems unreasonable to require an opioid-dependent patient to stop taking their methadone in order to participate, either.

Rachel Thomas

Gainesville

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