Tuesday, November 18, 2008

IDUD 2008 Gathers Top International Advocates

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Persons:
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director, edirector@methadone.org
Roxanne Baker, President, president@methadone.org
Phone/Fax: 212-595-NAMA

For Release:
November 17, 2008

BrugerForeningen (BF), NAMA’s Danish Affiliate hosted the International Drug Users’ Day (IDUD) in Copenhagen Denmark October 30 to November 3, 2008 to bring together the top user activists from around the world.

IDUD event was founded in 1995 by the national Dutch umbrella user organisation Landelijk Steunpunt Druggebruikers (LSD) and their director Theo van Dam. IDUD was an international conference and celebration for drug user activists to network, share ideas and unite user organizations. The last IDUD was hosted by BF in 2003 and gathered 96 activists from 16 different nations. The event was documented by Howard Lotsof (NAMA and Dora Weiner Foundation) and can be read on the BF website at http://www.brugerforeningen.dk/bfny.nsf/engelsk/nl003?OpenDocument&S=UK

Ths year’s event brought together 120 activists from around the world. Presentations included:

  • Méta d’âme’s new facility and the peer delivered services.

  • Syringe and needle distribution in jails and how to go about it.

  • Lifesaving prevention of peer distributed Naloxone to reduce overdose deaths.

  • Making user unions accepted in wider society by providing services (i.e. syringe patrols & prevention lectures at schools) and using the parents and relatives of drug users to promote the union.

  • Improving the lives of drug users through the union’s advisory services to the community and advocacy.

  • Publications: user magazines and special concepts such as the J-Key Cards to educate drug users and promote user organizations.

  • Heroin trials and treatment.

  • Memorial Day events for deceased drug users – 21 July.

  • Human rights for drug users and what user organizations should know.

  • Attracting funding for user groups and interest organizations.

  • Working with journalists and using the media to promote user organizations.

This was the fifteenth year anniversay of BrugerForeningen and on November 1, 2008 120 activists were served a three course meal. After dinner the gala party continued with a live band consisting of activists musicians from Italy, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Belgium with Pat O’Hare in lead.

NAMA presented Joergen Kjaer and BF the International Advocate of the Year Award for 2009 for “...the exceptional work they have done in Denmark and throughout the world advocating for drug users and those who are voiceless. Their efforts have resulted in a more united network of user organizations throughout the world, helped to create a unified voice and brought the issues that confront drug users to the public.”

Congratulations to BF and Happy Anniversary with many more successful years to come.

Photos of the events can be seen at these links.

IDUD Conference:


Gala Dinner:


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Variations In Key Genes Increase Caucasians’ Risk Of Heroin Addiction

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2008)

Sometimes, small changes do add up. In the case of addictive diseases, tiny variations in a few genes can increase or decrease the likelihood of some people developing a dependency on heroin. Now, by examining a select group of genetic variants in more than 400 former severe heroin addicts, Rockefeller University researchers have identified several genetic variations in American and Israeli Caucasians that influence the risk for becoming addicted to one of the world’s most powerful substances.

In a collaborative effort with statistical geneticists and several methadone clinics, scientists led by Mary Jeanne Kreek, head of the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases, analyzed 1,350 variations in 130 genes and found nine, from six genes, that were either more or less common in recovering heroin addicts when compared to Caucasians with no history of drug abuse. These small changes in the gene sequences can cause significant changes in protein function that can influence addictive behavior — changes that may affect people of different ethnic background differently.

“The idea of ‘personalized medicine’ makes this field really exciting but also very complicated,” says Orna Levran, a senior research associate in the Kreek laboratory and first author of the study. “Although seven of these variants increase the risk for developing heroin addiction in Caucasians, the same seven may not have the same effect in other populations. So ethnicity and, more precisely, genetic information in each individual may become important factors for treating and diagnosing addictions to different drugs.”

In their analysis, Kreek, Levran and their colleagues looked at a string of letters called nucleotides, the building blocks that make up genes. In each of the six genes, at least one letter is replaced by another, a genetic variation known as a single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP. The researchers found that all of the single-letter variations exist in parts of the genes that do not translate into proteins but instead may have a regulatory or a structural effect.

Out of the nine SNPs, the group found six in the μ, δ and κ opioid receptors, a finding that reinforces the idea, and many other findings of the Kreek laboratory, that opiate receptors play a major role in severe heroin addiction. The remaining three SNPs were found in genes coding for the serotonin receptor 3B, casein kinase 1 epsilon, which acts as a regulator of the circadian clock genes, and galanin, which modulates appetite and alcohol consumption. This is the first study to show that specific variants in these genes are associated with heroin addiction, explains Levran.

The SNPs in the κ opioid receptor and casein kinase 1 genes were found more in the control group than the heroin addicts’ group, suggesting that they conferred protection from heroin addiction — not vulnerability to develop addiction.

“Individually, these SNPs probably have a small effect,” explains Levran, “but collectively, we are seeing that they could have a larger effect. One of the goals now is to find all of these gene variants and assess how they influence people of different ethnic backgound.”


Journal reference:

Levran, Londono, O'Hara, Nielsen, Peles, Rotrosen, Casadonte, Linzy, Randesi, Ott, Adelson, Kreek. Genetic susceptibility to heroin addiction: a candidate gene association study. Genes Brain

and Behavior, 2008; 7 (7): 720

Adapted from materials provided by Rockefeller University.


Genetic susceptibility to heroin addiction: a candidate gene association study

O. Levran*,†, D. Londono ‡ , K. O'Hara † , D. A. Nielsen † , E. Peles § , J. Rotrosen ¶ , P. Casadonte ¶ , S. Linzy**, M. Randesi † , J. Ott ‡,†† , M. Adelson †,§,** M. J. Kreek †
  † The Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases, and  ‡The Laboratory of Statistical Genetics, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA,  §Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment and Research, Tel Aviv Elias Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel,  ¶VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and NYU School of Medicine New York, NY and  **Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse, Treatment and Research, Las Vegas, NV, USA, and  ††Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Correspondence to   *O. Levran, The Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases, 1230 York Avenue, Box 171, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA. E-mail: levrano@rockefeller.edu

Copyright Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/International Behavioural and Neural Genetic Society

KEYWORDS: Association study, candidate gene, heroin addiction

Heroin addiction is a chronic complex disease with a substantial genetic contribution. This study was designed to identify genetic variants that are associated with susceptibility to develop heroin addiction by analyzing 1350 variants in 130 candidate genes. All subjects had Caucasian ancestry. The sample consisted of 412 former severe heroin addicts in methadone treatment, and 184 healthy controls with no history of drug abuse. Nine variants, in six genes, showed the lowest nominal P values in the association tests (P < 0.01). These variants were in noncoding regions of the genes encoding the mu (OPRM1; rs510769 and rs3778151), kappa (OPRK1; rs6473797) and delta (OPRD1; rs2236861, rs2236857 and rs3766951) opioid receptors; the neuropeptide galanin (GAL; rs694066); the serotonin receptor subtype 3B (HTR3B; rs3758987) and the casein kinase 1 isoform epsilon (CSNK1E; rs1534891). Several haplotypes and multilocus genotype patterns showed nominally significant associations (e.g. OPRM1; P = 0.0006 and CSNK1E; P = 0.0007). Analysis of a combined effect of OPRM1 and OPRD1 showed that rs510769 and rs2236861 increase the risk of heroin addiction (P = 0.0005). None of these associations remained significant after adjustment for multiple testing. This study suggests the involvement of several genes and variants in heroin addiction, which is worthy of future study.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Notice: Medicaid Medicare New Rule Put on Hold

October 3, 2008

NAMA has been working behind the scenes with provider organizations regarding a New Rule proposed by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare that would set low limits for both Medicaid and Medicare. But the greatest impact it would have had would be to stop all Medicaid funding for methadone treatment.

It was worded in a way that if Medicare did not cover a service then Medicaid would also have to eliminate that service. It not only impacted methadone treatment but many other services that are not provided within a hosptial, such as: dialysis, women's services, HIV services, disabled children and mental health. Since the majority of programs are not hospital based and Medicaid funding would be ended.

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare also proposed 6 other rules that have also been put on hold until April 2009.

Here are some documents you can read about the rule.

Upper Payment Limit Federal Register
CMS Upper Payment Limit Rule-Coalition Response
Comment on Outpatient Hospital

Victory for Addiction Equity: Wellstone-Domenici Bill Passed by Congress and Signed by President Today

After twelve years frustrating hard work determined advocacy has finally produced the victory. Today Congress passed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 - comprehensive mental health and addiction parity legislation in honor of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. The bill was included in financial bailout package passed by the Senate on Monday and the House today. It now moves to the President's desk.

The parity bill does not require health-insurance plans to cover addiction or mental health, but insurers will now be barred from imposing any caps or limits on behavioral healthcare service that are not applied to other health conditions. Most insurance plans do include behavioral-healthcare coverage, and advocates say that past experience shows that passage of state-level parity laws has not led to insurers dropping such coverage.

We are still only half way there but that is better than not being there at all.  The bill will start to pave the way so that all Americans can receive help for their addiction.

NAMA salutes Faces & Voices for their strong support of this bill and medication assisted treatment.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Gulf Coast Area: Did Emergency Preparations Work?

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person:
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director

For Release 
September 6, 2008


Did Gulf Coast Programs Give Patients Enough Preparations for Gustav?

Policy Makers and Regulators are all congratulating one another for the great work done during Gustav. Patients got out of town and were given enough medication until they could get back. Thus far no complaints.  However all seemed to go well because Gustav ended up a Category 2 hurricane but what if it had been a Category 4 or greater.

NAMA needs to know if patients in the Gulf Coast Area had the correct emergency information to get through a larger hurricane. Can you answer some questions?

* * *

When did your program notify you to come in and get emergency evacuation medication?

If your area was not evacuated then did your program give you information what to do in case evacuation occurred?

Whether you evacuated or not how many days medication were you given and on what day?

Were you told what to do in case you could not return within the amount of days medication you were given?

Were you given information of what to do in case you could not reach your program after the hurricane?

Program Name:




Send your answers to edirector@methadone.org

We will take your answers and notify the proper authorities about what happened right and what did not happen that should have.



Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Threatens Texas to Mobile, Including New Orleans


National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person:
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director

For Release
August 31, 2008


While most Americans are enjoying the Labor Day Weekend residents from Galveston. TX to Mobile, Alabama are being warned about Hurricane Gustav. In the middle of the estimated path is New Orleans.


NAMA has already begun to get phone calls from patients in the area who are being told to evacuate.  One patient was just given 4 days medication and no other instructions in the case they could not return.  Neither were they provided with a letter stating their dose and other information.

Advise to Patients

If you need to evacuate get a letter from your clinic.  The standard Travel Letter that is given to patients should be enough that states you are patient, that you need to take ____ mgs of methadone a day and information about contacting the clinic.

Get a list of programs in the area in case you can not get back to your program and the State Methadone Authority.


New Orleans Programs

DRD New Orleans Medical Clinic
417 South Johnson Street
New Orleans, LA 70112 (504) 524-4701

Desire Narcotic Rehabilitation Ctr Inc
4116 Old Gentilly Road
New Orleans, LA 70126 (504) 301-8871

New Orleans Narcotic Treatment Center
7606 Westbank Expressway
Marrero, LA 70072 (504) 347-1120

Choices of Louisiana Inc
128 Woodland Drive
La Place, LA 70068 (985) 651-3777

Baton Rouge Treatment Center Inc
11445 Reiger Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70809 (225) 932-9867

If you need a program farther than New Orleans or you are in another state you can use the Treatment Facility Locator at:


State Methadone Authorities

Brenda  Lands
Louisiana Office for Addictive Disorders 
1201 Capital Access Road, 4th Floor 
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Telephone: (225) 342-8735 
Fax: (225) 342-3931 

Christine  Ramirez
1100 West 49th Street 
Austin, TX 78756-3199
Telephone: (512) 834-6700 x2146 
Fax: (512) 834-6638 

Robert  Wynn
Department of Mental Health
P.O. Box 301410, 100 North Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130-1410
Telephone: (334) 242-3956
Fax: (334) 242-0759


NAMA will continue to post information as it becomes available.

Finally NAMA Website Goes Back Up


National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person:
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director

For Release
August 31, 2008


It has been nearly 6 months since Calyx the service that has hosted the NAMA website went down. Several attempts to get the server up and running again have been attempted and failed. This left NAMA with the problem of having to find a service that could host a site the size and activity of the website but that would not be expensive.  We think we have found it and so the website is slowing going back up.

It will take us several weeks to get the website up and equal to what it was when it went down.  Many pages need updating while others may have broken links, missing pages, lost images and vanished pictures but we will track them down and upload them if you tell us what is missing.

Tell Us When You Find An Error

If you find something missing on a page send us a message with:

the name of the page,

the link and

what is missing,

to: whoops@methadone.org

Kerry Wolf New We Speak Methadone Administrator

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person:
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director

For Release
August 6, 2008

NAMA is pleased to announce that Kerry Wolf will be the new We Speak Methadone (WSM) Administrator. Ms. Wolf has been the second in command at WSM for several years and is already known at the forum for her commitment to spreading the truth and telling the untold success stories about methadone. Her energies sometimes seem to be endless and we at NAMA are very fortunate to have her.

Charles "Hoss" Kitts has been the administrator of WSM for many years.  He will most undoubtedly be missed for his caring and concern for patients that need help.  However Hoss is not actually leaving the family of NAMA as he will still be Director of the West Virginia chapter and we hope to see him posting at WSM on occasion.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Methadone Promising in Hard-To-Treat Leukemia

By Karla Gale
Reuters, August 1, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Methadone, a drug used to treat people addicted to heroin and other opioid drugs, holds promise as a new treatment for leukemia, especially treatment-resistant leukemia, according to results of a study.

Laboratory tests show that methadone kills leukemia cells without harming healthy blood cells, researchers at the University of Ulm in Germany report in a paper published today in the journal Cancer Research. Methadone was even effective in killing leukemia cells resistant to killing by chemotherapy and radiation.

"Leukemia cells express opioid receptors, to which methadone binds," study chief Dr. Claudia Friesen told Reuters Health. "Surprisingly, we found that methadone kills leukemia cells efficiently. We never expected that."

These results "provide the foundation for new strategies using methadone as an additional anticancer drug in leukemia therapy, especially when conventional therapies are less effective," the investigators conclude.

"We find this very exciting, because once conventional treatments fail, which occurs in old and also in young patients, they have no other options," Friesen said.

She predicts that methadone will have similar effects in other cancers that express opioid receptors. "In our lab we found that we also can kill solid tumors," she added.

Friesen and her team are studying methadone alone and in combination with other chemotherapy drugs in animal models of cancer.

SOURCE: Cancer Research, August 1, 2008.

Other Links

Methadone Breaks Resistance In Untreatable Forms Of Leukemia
Science Daily, August 4, 2008

Methadone Kills Resistant Leukemia Cells
HealthDay News, August 1, 2008

Lab Study Shows Methadone Breaks Resistance in Untreatable Forms of Leukemia
American Association for Cancer Research, August 1, 2008

Posted: August 4, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Indiana Poses New Regulations That Would Force Hundreds Out of Treatment

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Persons: Roxanne Baker, President
Joycelyn Woods, Executive Director

For Release
February 15, 2008

Indiana Poses New Regulations
That Would Force Hundreds Out of Treatment

The Indiana Legislature is proposing some excessive regulations that will force hundreds of patients out of treatment. And those seeking treatment will find barriers that make it nearly impossible to access treatment.

The Indiana House Bill 1258 calls for:

  1. Excessive and unnecessary urine testing,

  2. Discharge any patient testing positive for any drug not in their treatment plan,

  3. Not allow anyone under 18 years in a program unless they are being treated there or transporting a patient,

  4. Requires a designated driver for any patient leaving the program.

These regulations will force programs to discharge patients that test positive for any drug that is not part of their treatment plan. This means that any patient that develops a secondary addiction while in treatment will be denied treatment for their opiate dependence no matter how well they may be doing with it.

Every woman with children will now have the additional burden of a babysitter so that they can attend the program.

Making patients have a designated driver is really against all the scientific evidence that is known about a stable patient taking methadone.

This is an issue of legislators delving into something and making assumptions about things that they know nothing about. They do not understand that opiate addiction is a brain disorder and that methadone is a medication and they do not view patients as seeking recovery.

It is interesting to note that these regulations do not include other powerful medications that can cause impairment. They are focused on methadone and patients in medicated assisted treatment because they harbor prejudices and stigma towards them.

Methadone has been evaluated for over forty years throughout the world. Studies evaluating the functional potential of methadone patients have found no differences between the patients and control groups. In fact in some studies the patients had a faster reaction time and another study that followed driving records found patients were safer drivers (Gordon, 1994).

What is the most disturbing is that Indiana legislators are making regulations without consulting any professionals, researchers or patients to first assess the needs and impact of the new regulations. One would hope that there intention would be to make Indiana a better place for all of it’s citizens.

The MAG is Working in Indiana

The MAG of Indiana NAMA’s Indiana Chapter is working to mobilize patients and advocates to speak out against this legislation. Even if you live in another state it is important that you write to these legislators and tell them how devastating this will be to patients.

What Can You Do?

You can download the following to help with contacting legislators:

Indiana Legislators Target Methadone Patients Flyer

Who to Write To

District Reps for methadone clinics

House Bill 1258

Courier-Journal Article

Patient Info Sheet for SB 0157 (Designated Driver)

Petition for Designated Driver

Phone Script for Designated Driver