Monday, November 12, 2007

Porter Starke Ready to Open New Indiana Clinic

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person:
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director

For Release
November 12, 2007

Located in Valparaiso the clinic is attached to the main Porter-Starke Services building has everything in place except the actual methadone according to advocate and director Carmen Arlt. The clinic has been inspected by state and federal officials and is now waiting for the federal certificate. Once the certificate is received the clinic could be open within days. According to Arlt they are expecting a large number of transfer patients from the Gary area since many of the patients that attend those clinics are from the area

Carmen Arlt is also director of NAMA’s Indiana Chapter The MAG and is one of the few patient advocates to be recognized with the prestigious Marie (Dole-Nyswander) Award.

Since its beginning over 40 years ago methadone maintenance has been the most effective treatment for narcotic addiction. In spite of its success, methadone maintenance is often disparaged as a "substitute drug" by those who ignore the positive benefits that it has clearly brought to society. Such attitudes negatively impact on methadone treatment in a variety of ways, but it is the methadone patients themselves who are particularly stigmatized and harmed. Patients are mistreated and misinformed and considered as social outcasts. They are victims of discrimination in health care, the job market, education, insurance and housing. The National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA) was organized as a formal mechanism for methadone patients to voice their own needs and to form a strong, unified public presence on their behalf. The primary objective of NAMA is to advocate for the patient in treatment by destigmatizing and empowering methadone patients. First and foremost, it can confront the negative stereotypes that impact on the self esteem and worth of many methadone patients with a powerful affirmation of pride and unity.

Contact Persons:
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director,
Roxanne Baker, President,
Phone/FAX: 212.595.nama

See attached article from Post Tribune.

Final touches on clinic
November 10, 2007
By Teresa Auch Post-Tribune staff writer
VALPARAISO -- The new methadone clinic at Porter-Starke Services is ready to open, just as soon as the federal government gives approval.
The clinic, one of 13 in the state, was supposed to open July 1, Carmen Arlt, director of addiction services said. But the group wanted to put in more safety features, such as cameras and locks, to make the community and staff feel safe.
"We were slowed down by the process of renovation," Arlt said.
The clinic, which is attached to the main Porter-Starke Services building at 701 Wall St. in Valparaiso, has everything in place except the actual methadone.
A camera hovers over the entrance, as do several others in the lobby. Patients coming to get a prescription of methadone must first sign in at a front window.
They then move to another window, walled off from the lobby, to take their dosage.
The clients must sign electronically and then swallow the liquid in front of the registered nurse giving the dose, nurse staff member Don Sison said.
"Sometimes we engage in conversation after they have taken it to make sure they have swallowed it," Sison said.
The conversation also allows the nurses to get a feel for how patients are doing.
The clinic includes several side rooms for physicals, mandatory drug tests and interviews. Anyone who wants to become, and remain, a patient must prove they have tried other measures and that they are making improvements in their lives, Arlt said.
As for the dispensary, the room is made of steel walls, the door has a double lock, along with motion detectors.
Anyone entering the room has to have a nursing certificate posted on a board inside. The methadone supplies are kept in a special safe.
Arlt said the clinic has passed all levels of state and federal regulations.
"We're actually more safe over here than a bank," she said.
As soon as the federal government gives official certification, the clinic can be open within a few days.
That could happen anywhere from days to a few weeks from now, she said.
Arlt said she expects to see a heavy volume of patients soon.
The state government has warned her that about 60 percent of the patients who go to the clinics in Gary are from Porter County and will likely go to Porter-Starke once its clinic opens.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Leaders of NAMA’s Swedish Affiliate Svenska Brukarforeningen (SBF) Report to Police for Handing Out Clean Needles

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release
May 17, 2007

On May 4 SBF’s President, Berne Stålenkrantz and the Stockhom Director, Johan Stenbäck presented themselves to the Norrmalm Police Station in Stockholm for handing out clean needles to drug users.

The purpose of the action was to get an official assessment of the their crime and to bring to the public the fact that Sweden does not allow syringes to be sold in pharmacies as is done is all other countries in the European Union (EU). SBF is also considering reporting Sweden to the European Union for its failure to comply with EU rules surrounding the common market.

In southern Sweden needle exchange programs have been keeping the spread of HCV nd HIV under control for the past 20 years. County and Town Councils have been allowed to establish needle exchange programmes if they so wish. However in Stockholm no such programs have been established.

According to Stålenkrantz if the penalty is mild they will continue with what they are doing. However after SBF publicized that they were providing drug users with clean needles the organization suddenly found its financing from Stockholm City Council under threat.

Stålenkrantz also reported that a colleague suffering from a Hepatitis C was planning to report the city's social services department to the police because he has contracted a deadly illness after being refused clean syringes. He will also state that he was a victim of SBF’s having received clean syringes from the organization.

Needle exchange programs have been used worldwide for the past twenty years and provides a way for drug users to avoid the risks of drug use as well as a way to access support services including treatment.

"We are handing out syringes for purely humanitarian reasons. And we are forced to do so since society is not providing this type of healthcare," said Stålenkrantz.

Friday, May 04, 2007

NAMA Calls for An End To Using The Term Substitution Treatment Asking That Governments and Their Agencies and Organizations End Its’ Use

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Joycelyn Woods MA-CMA (212) 595-NAMA/6262

For Release:
May 4, 2007

The National Alliance of Methadone Advocates, our international affiliates and chapters in the United States call on all governments, governmental agencies and international organizations to end the use of “Substitution Treatment” when referring to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opiate addiction.

The term “Substitution Treatment” infers that any medication used in the treatment of opiate dependence is a substitute. No other medication is referred to in this manner creating significant misunderstandings towards the medication and especially the patients. The use of “Substitution Treatment” stigmatizes patients receiving treatment for the opiate dependence, promotes ignorance and pollutes the development and growth of this life saving medication for those needing help for their opiate dependence.

Governments have rejected buprenorphine and particularly methadone because they it is viewed as merely a substitute for heroin or other illicit drugs. Officials in rejecting these medications have expressed the belief that their citizens should have the right to an effective treatment. Thus hundreds of thousands of opiate dependent individuals “are being denied” the most effective treatment because “Substitution Treatment” is misleading and confusing.

In the United States the term Substitute and Substitution Treatment is only used to denigrate both methadone and buprenorphine treatments. Calling these medications a substitute has been used to hurt Patients by denying them opportunities and other benefits that they deserve and have worked for. Thus, in the United States only those against methadone and buprenorphine call them a Substitute.

At Bratislava in 2006 Dr. Icro Maremmani, the President of Europad called for his European colleagues to end the use of “Substitution Treatment. He asked his colleagues to follow the philosophy and principles of Drs. Dole and Nyswander who believed that opioid dependence and addiction was a medical condition and conceptualized the drug dependent person as a person with a brain metabolic disorder.

The last years of Dr. Dole’s life were spent working to resolve the stigma and prejudice that affects patients in medication assisted treatment. Dr. Dole was acutely aware of the stigma that terms like “Substitution Treatment” create towards patients. He always spoke out against any inference that medication assisted treatment was a substitute. In his experience, methadone and more recently buprenorphine were medications that stabilize the endogenous opioid system damaged by narcotics.

We, at the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates believe that the use of Substitute or Substitution Treatment denigrates this treatment. And that by denigrating this treatment patients receiving medication assisted treatment are injured.

As patients we reserve the right to define ourselves and our treatment. It is therefore the spirit of our own self identity we ask governments and their agencies, organizations and professionals to cease using “Substitution Treatment. Methadone and buprenorphine are medical treatments and should be defined as “Medication Assisted Treatment” or “Opiate Agonist Therapy”.

It is therefore in the spirit of our own self identity we ask governments and their agencies, organizations and professionals to cease using “Substitution Treatment. Methadone and buprenorphine are "medical treatments" and should be defined as such. However if you must put a name to addiction treatment then we suggest “Medication Assisted Treatment” or “Opiate Agonist Therapy”.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Méta d'âme Announces New Housing Initiative for Methadone Patients in Montreal

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Persons:

Joycelyn Woods, President

Guy Pierre Levesque, Méta d'âme

For Release:
April 12, 2007

Méta d'âme NAMA’s affiliate in Montreal has announced a new housing project that will provide housing and peer services to methadone patients. Construction of a new building will begin in August with the building of 22 units that consisting of studio and 1-bedroom apartments. The building will have a green roof and community hall for meetings. Meta d'âme will own and manage the project with peer workers in collaboration with clinic referrals. Guy Pierre Lévesque spokesperson for Méta d'âme reports that the organization will also occupy half of the ground floor starting June 2008.

The housing project is named Promethéus (Promethe) from the Greek god. A favorite of Zeus Promethe was punisheed for disobedience because he stole fire from the gods and gave it to mortals for their use. This was the beginning of enlightenment for man. An appropriate name for the project Promethean refers to events or people of great creativity, intellect and boldness.

Also in the planning is a French International Methadone Conference and other medicated assisted treatment (MAT) for opiate dependency. Translations will be made available in English. Méta d'âme will be involved in the planning and also include peer-working at the conference. In addition to the conference Méta d'âme is involved in the development of a Canadian Methadone Association.

“It is possible to make things happened if we believe in what we do,” says Lévesque. Therefore it appears that the impetus of Méta d'âme is creating some important advances in Canada.

Monday, April 09, 2007


National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Joycelyn Woods MA-CMA (212) 595-NAMA/6262

For Release:
April 9, 2007

The Mount Sinai Hospital is planning to close the Narcotic Rehabilitation Center (NRC) a program with an international reputation for excellence in treating opiate addiction. After 37 years of providing rehabilitation services to Upper East Side residents afflicted with opiate addiction, Mount Sinai has determined that there is no longer any room for the program.

Even after accepting funds for the renovation of the facility from the New York State Office of Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) the hospital appears to be moving to quickly close NRC. In NRC’s place Mount Sinai is planning a multi-million dollar project that will include luxury high-rise apartments. It is difficult to comprehend Mount Sinai’s decision to eliminate a program that has been important to the local neighborhood. The situation could be easily averted since NRC can be easily relocated to the selected site that is renovated, licensed and ready to open. Therefore it is difficult to understand why Mt. Sinai can not find a way to keep these valuable services.

Has Mount Sinai Forgotten it’s Mission?

The National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA) has already begun to hear from fearful patients and their concerns about having to go to another program that they do not know. Certainly, patients will have to travel into other neighborhoods for treatment, change their schedules and develop new relationships with program staff. This creates stress for patients and their families. And now with fewer options to treatment in East Harlem any increases in drug use could easily develop into a public health crisis.

NRC that serves 700 patients has a international reputation for providing quality medicated assisted treatment and is known for having exceptional services. The programs that will have to take on the responsibility of accepting these patients do not have the services that NRC has developed over the years. Programs in Northern Manhattan are already operating close to capacity and certainly do not have room for large numbers of patients creating a carry over effect. If the 7 closest programs accepted 100 patients each the burden on them would be tremendous. Program staff already over worked and stressed will not be able to provide the level of care that they were providing. Therefore a large number of patients from an area with pockets of destitution will not be able to obtain the services that they need to change their lives. In addition to the 700 patients from NRC at least another 3500 patients will be affected by the closing of NRC.

The Harlem area and nearby neighborhoods will be impacted from the effects of the closing of NRC. The improvements that the Harlem area has experienced in the last decade will begin to deteriorate. Individuals seeking help for their opiate dependence will be turned away from local programs, a rarity in New York City. Crime in East Harlem will undoubtedly increase and spill into neighboring communities. The standard of living will be reduced for all as hospitals admissions increase and other public health indicators increase (i.e. HIV, overdose deaths, TB). Therefore the impact of NRC closing on the community and on the city is not insignificant.

NAMA urges Mount Sinai to re-think their decision and to continue with the decision to utilize the site that has been selected and is ready for the program to move into. Proceeding with the current decision to close NRC is an indication that the needs of community are not important in comparison to the new luxury high rise residents. NAMA believes that the patients of NRC and the East Harlem community deserve more from Mount Sinai and will make every effort to insure that the patients of NRC and the community are not forgotten. East Harlem is a vibrant community and the people deserve the right to have access to medicated assisted treatment within their community.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release
Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release:
March 10, 2007

It is not uncommon for individuals with a long history of illicit opiate use to remain in methadone treatment as a long term patient. Many often say that without methadone treatment they would probably be dead. Other forms of treatment were not effective and they had come to believe that they would die an "addict". Numerous studies have demonstrated that the majority of persons who leave methadone treatment revert to illicit heroin or other opioid use in relatively short time though of course there are exceptions.

NIDA and NIH considers "addiction" as a chronic relapsing brain disorder. A full text article, The Neurobiology of Addictive Behaviors and its Relationship to Methadone Maintenance by Stimmel and Kreek is available from,

You get an excellent idea of the benefits of methadone maintenance by visiting a petition web site that was recently established by NAMA to counter anti-methadone groups trying to restrict this valuable therapy. Read the patient reports on the petition and you will get a significant understanding of the benefits to the patients of this form of therapy.

However recently there have been an increase in methadone overdose deaths attributed to an increase in prescribing methadone for pain medication. Also methadone has been in the media recently adding to the fervor and sensationalism.

The change in regulations created a more realistic situation for both programs and patients seeking recovery. However recently several sensational websites are promoting stricter regulations on methadone treatment in an effort to end the increase overdose deaths. These measures will be ineffective as most of the deaths are due to a number of factors including mishandling of medication. In an effort to protect our life saving treatment and to make methadone safer for pain management NAMA recommends education rather than restrictions.

We are also asking patients and their families to sign a petition "Methadone Patients Against Hysteria and Further Restrictions". The petition in brief, reads as follows:

We are Methadone Patients, Providers, Families and Friends AGAINST the Hysteria which is calling for Further Restrictions on the Prescribing of Methadone."

Monday, March 05, 2007

NAMA Announces NAMA NorCal's House Party Rokki's Education Party for HBO's Addition Special

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Rokki Baker, CMA, NAMA Vice President and NAMA NorCal Director
Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release:
March 5, 2007

All across the country people are coming together to watch and discuss the new HBO series, ADDICTION. Americans will be coming together to discuss what needs o happen in their communities to make alcohol, drug treatment and recovery support available and show the power of long-term recovery. For to long patients in medicated assisted treatment (MAT) have not thought of themselves as being in recovery and it is time to change. Join NAMA NorCal for Rokki's Education to discuss MAT and recovery and ways to introduce it to the MAT community. This is our opportunity to be counted.

What is HBO's ADDICTION Project

The documentary, ADDICTION, examines recent advancements in research and effective new treatments. It demonstrates that treatment and recovery is possible. And it is positive to MAT by emphasizing that addiction is a brain disease.

ADDICTION is a series of four programs that premieres from Thursday, March 15, to Sunday, March 18. In participating cable systems it will be free for the weekend.

NAMA NorCal will host an ADDICTION ACTION House Party.

When: 03/16/07 04:00 PM

Where: NAMA-NorCal
3400 Portola Drive #A2
Santa Cruz, California

RSVP: Guestlist

Contact Organizer: Roxanne Baker

Click here for a complete series broadcast schedule.

Visit Addiction Action.

Visit NAMA website.

Together, we can make a difference.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

New Jersey Advocates Announces New State Access Initiative

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Claude Hopkins, CMA-RMA (732) 678-5172
Joycelyn Woods MA-CMA (212) 595-NAMA/6262

For Release:
February 3, 2007

NAMA's New Jersey Chapter Announces
New State Access Initiative

New Jersey Advocates NAMA's official chapter for the state of New Jersey announces a new state access initiative. The New Jersey Access Initiative (NJAI) is a program of the Division of Addiction Services and administered by the Center for Family Services, Inc..

The program was created to "enhance" traditional substance abuse treatment to New Jersey residents addicted to opiates. NJAI provides funding for assessments, inpatient detoxification, opiate drug treatment utilizing a modality of medicated assisted treatment (i.e. methadone and buprenorphine), drug-free treatment and Recovery Mentoring services.

Eligible MAT patients actively engaged in treatment will be given a choice of a Certified Recovery Mentor who will enhance their care during treatment and facilitate their transition from treatment to long-term recovery and a successful life in the community. The Recovery Mentor Associates will assist with brokering necessary services and removing the common barriers to recovery.

This program is presently accepting all eligible applicants who is suffering from an addiction to opiates. At the present anyone who is attempting to get onto a methadone program but is having difficulty due to a lack of funding or anyone who is presently on a methadone program but is in the process of loosing their status as a patient due to not having the funds to continue would most likely be eligible for a voucher to pay for treatment. This voucher would give them access to treatment in a methadone treatment facility for 6 mos and any needed covered services along with a Recovery Mentor.

Anyone interested in this program can contact the New Jersey Addiction Hotline at 1-800-238-2333, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and ask to be placed on the access initiative program.

Not all New Jersey MTPs have asked to be part of the program however, as NJAI expands more will become providers for this initiative. There are several drug-free providers throughout the state. You will receive a list of all eligible providers once you receive your voucher number over the phone. You can then take your number to one of the approved providers to receive your assessment which starts the treatment process.

Anyone needing assistance can contact Claude Hopkins at the phone number or email below.

Phone: (732) 678-5172