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Methadone treatment should not be stigmatized | READER COMMENTARY

Exterior of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church, above Turning Point Clinic, which disperses methadone to patients in the same building as the church. File.
Exterior of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church, above Turning Point Clinic, which disperses methadone to patients in the same building as the church. File. (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way we deliver care for people with opioid use disorder. Unfortunately, reporter Tim Prudente’s story about the dangers of providing take-home doses of methadone reinforce the stigma around addiction (“Those addicted to heroin in Baltimore are being sent home with more methadone than ever amid the coronavirus pandemic,” April 13).

Methadone and suboxone are safe and effective in reducing cravings, preventing overdose and avoiding relapse. While some people benefit from the accountability of daily methadone dosing, others would prefer to manage their medications at home as they would for diabetes or high blood pressure.

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Fears about the “street value” of these medications miss the point. People in withdrawal shouldn’t have to turn to the street to access evidence-based treatment. We must make these medications available to anyone who needs them, not lock them away behind restrictive policies.

Finally, we must combat stigma with stories. Terms like “person with opioid use disorder” rather than “heroin addict” highlight the humanity of people who are struggling. Voices of patients, not just service providers, help readers understand their lived experience. We must do better to recognize the challenges facing people with opioid use disorder and the ways we can build hope and change policy to support those in need.

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Dana Goplerud, Baltimore

The writer is a medical student at Johns Hopkins University.

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