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Methadone a long-acting synthetic narcotic analgesic was first used in the maintenance treatment of drug addiction in the mid-1960s by Drs Vincent Dole and Marie Nyswander of Rockefeller University There are now 115000 methadone maintenance patients in the United States 40000 of whom are in New York State and about half that many are in California Methadone is widely employed throughout the world and is the most effective known treatment for heroin addiction The goal of methadone maintenance treatment MMT is to reduce illegal heroin use and the crime death and disease associated with heroin addiction Methadone can be used to detoxify heroin addicts but most heroin addicts who detoxusing methadone or any other methodreturn to heroin use Therefore the goal of MMT is to reduce and even eliminate heroin use among addicts by stabilizing them on methadone for as long as is necessary to help them avoid returning to previous patterns of drug use The benefits of MMT have been established by hundreds of scientific studies and there are almost no negative health consequences of long-term methadone treatment even when it continues for twenty or thirty years Methadone maintenance treatment came into being in an unexpected way By 1963doctors and public health workers had concluded what objective observers and users alike had known for decades that there was no treatment known which could cure long term opiate heroin morphine opium etc addicts In fact there wasnt even any treatment that could honestly claim to be more successful than no treatment at all Every imaginable option had been tried from lobotomies and insulin shock to psychoanalysis and the threat of lifetime imprisonment Yet in every case the result was the same between 70 and 90 percent of these chronic addicts would return to opiates within a short time In light of such statistics a number of prestigious panels examined the
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