"Plan to End Methadone Use at Albuquerque Jail Prompts Alarm" (news article, Jan. 7) draws attention to the importance of treating people suffering from the disease of addiction.
CASAColumbia’s research has found that two-thirds of all incarcerated people in the United States meet medical criteria for addiction. This disease can be effectively treated with evidence-based medicine like methadone maintenance therapy. It would be unethical to deprive inmates of such treatment.
According to a 2009 Cochrane systematic review, "Methadone is the most widely used replacement for heroin in medically supported maintenance or detoxification programs." The review also stated that "methadone can reduce the use of heroin in dependent people, and keep them in treatment programs."
Scientific research must serve as our guide to develop effective treatment. Then evidence-based medicine can help improve the health and wellness of all people.
The writer is senior medical adviser, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia).