Methodone is an opioid and used as a prescription drug to curb withdrawal symptoms for heroin addicts. It is actually a synthetic version of heroin which mimics the effects that a heroin user experiences.
What needs to be said at the outset is that methodone is a powerful drug. When a heroin user stops taking heroin and joins a legal methodone program they are not going ‘clean’. They are not going ‘cold turkey’. They have simply replaced one destructive substance for another.
Methodone is not safe. It does have an affect on your body. For example, it is a depressant and it dramatically slows down the messages between your brain and your body.
Methodone might be helping addicts to stay away from heroin but it is not helping them walk away from drugs altogether. It is highly addictive. It is a free narcotic that provides them with the ‘hit’ they crave. Yes, it is professionally managed through pharmacies which determine the dosages but don’t forget it is simply a regulated synthetic drug replacing an uncontrolled opiate.
Are you aware that there are methadone users who attend the methadone clinics with dentist type cotton packs in their cheeks so that they can fill the cotton wool with the methadone dose and sell it on the street for their next hit of heroin.
History shows that about eight out of every 10 heroin users are still reliant on the drug. Few people walk away.
Having explained this it seems to be madness that methodone users are legally allowed to get behind the wheel of a car.
They are experiencing similar mental-physical-psychological effects to what heroin delivers but they are allowed to be in control of a fast moving object which requires split second decision making to operate.
How can this be right?
The law says a person can have methodone in their body whilst they are driving…but they cannot be under the influence of it.
Herein lies the insanity. If a person has consumed methodone (it is taken orally under supervision) – it is affecting them.
A synthetic substance foreign to the natural body has been injected into the blood stream which is present in every part of the body. Secondly, we are asking a person whose judgement and logic is impaired by methodone to self-diagnose if they are ‘under the influence’ or not. It is like asking an alcoholic if they are drunk while they drink and drive.
When a Drug-Safe Communities field tester identifies a person with alcohol or a narcotic in their system we are required by law to provide alternative transport to take them to a safe environment to recover…until they can indicate through a drug test that they are free of any effects.
So, why is it that a customer of ours is not allowed by law to drive and yet methodone users can?
The insanity of this legislation hit us all with tragic and shocking reality on Boxing Day. A 50 year old NSW South Coast man who was driving home after having attended a methodone clinic crossed on to the wrong side of the road and went head-on into a car carrying the Falkholt family.
The methodone user and Mr and Mrs Falkholt were killed instantly in the crash which caused both vehicles to catch fire. Annabelle, 21, has since passed away in hospital and Jessica, 28, is fighting for her life a fortnight after the tragedy.
The driver was known to police. He had been jailed for driving whilst being disqualified from driving.
Surely this terrible incident is enough reason for the Government to introduce legislation that prevents all methadone patients from having a driver’s licence. I believe they all should lose their licence until they can demonstrate that they are clean.
Statistics reveal that 383 people lost their lives in vehicle accidents in New South Wales during 2017. This was the worst figure for any state and territory in Australia. The facts also show that in the period between 2012-2016 there was an historic shift in that alcohol was overtaken by drugs as a contributor to fatal accidents.
For decades the authorities, advertising and media have focused on drinking and driving. The impact of these messages was so powerful that it is now socially unacceptable to be over the limit and drive.
Well, times have changed. Up until 2016, 18 percent of vehicle fatalities were drug-related compared to 16 percent connected to alcohol.
Given the horror stories we hear every week at Drug-Safe Communities about the prevalence of drugs, such as Ice, one would expect this statistic to change for the worse in 2018.
In early January I spoke to Mark Levy, on 2GB’s Ray Hadley Show, and I applaud him for ‘being right on the money’. He has been quick to pick up on this methodone situation and the change in road toll statistics. He said something has to be done to get methodone users off the road, and I agree 100 percent with him. Mark said he is not going to let this situation ‘go away’ and I will be supporting him all the way. Go get ‘em, Mark!