By Don Ranalli
Let me preface this email by stating I am a day one reader of this newspaper and 95% of the time love the viewpoints of the writers, especially when revealing the corrupt nature of Niagara Falls politics, backroom slick deals and the failing of the people of this once great city. However an article in the latest issue of your newspaper has me flat out disappointed.
I work as a chemical dependency counselor in the Catholic Health system. I travel roughly 45 minutes to an hour Monday through Friday from Niagara Falls to Buffalo to work with individuals struggling with addiction and destruction in their lives. Unless you have been living under a rock, you see almost daily on the news the “heroin epidemic” that is gripping the whole country, not just WNY. The year to year numbers of overdosed climb by 100% or more EACH YEAR.
Your article on methadone clinics was misleading, misinformed and frankly, dangerous. I personally have worked in the field of addiction for 6 years. I have a bachelors and a masters degree and consider myself at the very least a half wit. I have the pleasure of working with medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to working in the field of addiction. I work closely with the methadone clinic in Buffalo, and the REAL WORLD statistics of harm reduction, shows that methadone clinics in fact SAVE LIVES.
To craft an article about opiod addiction….. because that’s what your focusing on in your article even though several times this study referred to “narcotics” in lieu of the actual narcotic that methadone treats. When an individual becomes addicted to opiates and becomes physically dependent, the brain pathways change. Going back to the way things were pre addiction is not even an option anymore.
Here’s where you, and everyone else miss the boat on methadone, and opiate replacement therapy. It’s a MEDICATION. Some medications have to be taken for life. Talk to the person suffering from hypertension that has to take life long medication to stop cardiac issues. Or speak with the diabetic that has to inject insulin in order to continue to live a semblance of a quality of life.
You see addiction is an uncomfortable conversation. The MAIN problem today, is misinformation and being uneducated to the issue. Heroin and opiates are not going away. Addiction is not a choice, regardless of what you or anyone else may think. Addicts don’t CHOOSE to become criminals and sell their bodies, the ad-diction takes over and these become survival instincts, more so than eating and sleeping or finding good shel-ter.
Believe me I 100% understand that people don’t want methadone clinics in their back yards. Alot of that has to do with misinformation. Yes, alot of the addicts going to a clinic have criminal backgrounds, that’s a by-product of addiction. However methadone is a level of care. A medication assisted therapy that is also a coun-seling service and life saving, last chance for those suffering from the horrible disease of addiction. Let me ask you this last question. If it was someone you loved deeply, a spouse, a sibling, a parent, a child…..and the only chance for them between the morgue and life was a methadone clinic, would you still be publishing arti-cles bashing them?
PS anytime you want to interview a professional in the field about what’s really going on, and the services out there for help and want to be part of the solution, rather than the misinformation, my email is open. In the meantime I’ll keep reading the 95% of the newspaper that’s spot on.