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TURNING OFF DRUG ABUSE: TREATING THE HEROIN ADDICT

Few proven treatment programs for heavy drug dependency are available, except these for heroin addiction:
• Methadone maintenance. Addicts take methadone, a heroin-like synthetic, which reduces craving for heroin.
• Residential community. Heroin users live together in a support-group setting and work toward freeing each other from heroin addiction.
• Drug-free outpatient. Addicts report regularly to a clinic for counseling.
An analysis of these treatments by researchers at Texas Christian University and Texas A&M University reveals that, in each of the programs, many addicts drop their habits, keep out of trouble, and find paying jobs.
Methadone does carry a risk. In 1 year, out of 95,000 methadone patients nationwide, 350 died. This figure is far lower than the risk of death from overdose and disease outside the program.
Few studies show that drug treatment programs can achieve similar results for cocaine and multiple-drug abusers, although residential treatment does seem to work the best.
John, 31, a heavy user of cocaine and heroin (with alcohol, LSD, amphetamines), entered Phoenix House. After a year of daily meetings with other drug abusers and learning how to build a positive self-image and curtail his destructive behavior, John is ready to leave Phoenix House, drug-free. The chances of his going back to drug abuse are high.
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GENERAL HEALTH

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