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Many jails in Oklahoma disregard state law requiring methadone treatment

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 26, 2013 at 6:28 am •  Published: January 26, 2013

The resident was Ron DuBois. His son, Peter DuBois, died in 2010 after falling approximately 12 feet in the Payne County Jail where he was an inmate. The cause of death was determined a suicide. Peter was chemically dependent on methadone, his father said.

“There is a profound misconception about opiate dependence and withdrawals,” Jamieson said.

Methadone a sound treatment option

Jamieson has been in the field of opiate and methadone dependence for 16 years and has often encountered professionals who have negative views toward methadone treatment. She said using methadone to treat opiate dependence is the best course of action for severe opiate addicts.

Long-term opiate use changes the way nerve cells in the brain work to the point in which they become overstimulated and need an opiate to function. If opiates are taken away from dependent nerve cells, many cells become overactive, causing severe withdrawal symptoms.

This is why patients are given methadone, Jamieson said. The patients no longer have to use illicit drugs that cause dangerous impairment, intoxication and withdrawal.

Methadone patients are as physically addicted to methadone as other opiates, like oxycontin or vicodin. Withdrawal symptoms are slightly less severe than those from heroin or morphine but can last for weeks.

At high maintenance doses, sudden cessation of therapy can result in methadone withdrawal symptoms described as the worst withdrawal imaginable, Jamieson said.

“They can have a life free of the horrors of opiate use,” Jamieson said. “Methadone stabilizes withdrawal and allows an addict to work, take care of their families and live a normal life.”

Jamieson said she hopes the law will eventually be fully implemented to create fair treatment for methadone patients.

“All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and we will continue to fight for the rights of these patients who are suffering from a horrible disease,” Jamieson said.