If you've ever used heavily for a length of time, or used to a point where you no longer are enjoying it, you may find yourself part of the "methadone maintenance program".
That's what they call it in Queensland. At least it's a little more honest than places that call it a treatment program. A quick lookup of treatment tells me that it means "care by procedures or applications that are intended to relieve illness or injury "
Methadone is not intended as a drug to relieve illness or injury. It replaces one addictive drug with a far more addictive drug. I see the main difference between the drugs are as follows:
Methadone is synthetic, heroin is natural.
Heroin has a heavy stigma attached, methadone, although pharmacologically more damaging than pure heroin, is "accepted" by the wider community as a necessary evil.
Methadone has a longer half-life (24 hours) than heroin (8 hours). This means an addict needs fewer doses.
Withdrawal from methadone takes about 6 times longer than heroin withdrawal. I detoxed from heroin and was physically better in five days, I am yet to detox from methadone but I am warned that cold turkey would make the next six weeks of my life a living hell.
If you are preparing to sign up for the methadone program, at least in Queensland you will have to be prepared to do the following.
Admit to being a sick person. The whole methadone program is based on the modern notion of heroin addiction as a disease. Pretty much everyone I have spoken to in the publicly run methadone program has viewed me as a defective being.
Accept that you will be treated as a liar and criminal. Any requests you make for treatment procedures that deviate from the standard (eg wanting a takeaway as your work starts early) will be viewed as a lie by a scamming junkie.
Be prepared to have volumes of written evidence to back up your requests.
Ironically, if you tell the truth, prepare to be penalised. I started off trying to be honest with my counselor (who will change every 6 months so don't try to get to know them too well), telling them that I was still using. This doesn't help.
You'll find yourself rammed up to a maximum 120mg zombie dose if you accept their "one answer to all questions" solution of "Why not increase your dose". In all my visits if I ever said I was having trouble coping I was told that I needed to increase
my dose. When I told them that I used just as much on 100mg as I was on 45mg, they ignored me.
Your photo and fingerprints (check this) will be taken for permanent file records. Just like in a watch house. The official idea is to assist dispensers so they have a photographic record of you when you go to pick up.
As part of the "criminal" treatment, expect that every six months you will turn up to your chemist to be told this is your last dose as "you haven't been in contact with your counselor". It doesn't matter if you work or what your life is. If you want that dose
the next day (and they know you will!) you must drop everything and prepare to wait hours in the waiting room for your bi-yearly dressing down.
Don't expect any staff to give a damn about your case. Whether it's the working conditions or the clients they get, either way there's a wall between you and your counselor that they're in no hurry to break down. A couple of years ago I tried to make a metaphorical allusion between the way i was feeling and certain famous paintings - I said I felt like Blue Poles yesterday, today I felt like "The Scream" or something like that. Big mistake. I got a look like I was some kind of space alien. Just act stupid. It's what they want.
I went private around a year ago. I was trying to re-enlist on the public program after a 4 week hiatus, and I presume as punishment I was told that I would have to wait a month for an appointment. No matter if you've been on the program six years, if you drop off for more than a week you must start the whole process gain. They suggested I go private. Luckily I was working and could afford the $400 it cost me in doctors fees to see a doc every day for a week whilst I stabilised. If i hadn't that $400 I would have lost my job as I suffered through withdrawal.