The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the National Institute for Drug Addiction (NIDA) have funded numerous studies on methadone treatment over the past 30 years. Radiological and other studies utilizing advanced technologies have mapped the biochemical and structural changes of the brain which individuals incur as a result of their dependency/addiction to the narcotic class of drugs referred to as opiates, including heroin, morphine, codeine, percocet, etc. Once addicted to these substances, individuals suffer strong cravings that are rooted deep within the brain. These cravings are accompanied by symptoms of narcotic withdrawal that may include increased blood pressure and temperature, rapid heart rate, body aches, chills, fever, hot and cold flashes, tremors, headache, vomiting, abdominal cramping, weakness, restlessness and difficulty sleeping. The narcotic addict has the inherent knowledge that use of a narcotic such as heroin will "fix" everything by eliminating these cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These physical changes and symptoms are the basis for the American Medical Association acknowledging that narcotic dependency/addiction is a disease. The FDA approved medication Methadone may be taken by mouth and decrease or alleviate the symptoms of narcotic withdrawal and drug craving. Methadone does not create a "high" or euphoric feeling and in fact block the "high" of other narcotics such as heroin. When the medication is utilized with counseling and education, patient/consumers have the opportunity to address the impact that active addiction causes on their physical, emotional and social condition, allowing patient/consumers the opportunity to work toward positive and productive drug-free lifestyles. Furthermore, research demonstrates that methadone treatment:
- Decreases crime rates.
- Reduces public health risks, specifically, the spread of tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Reduces emergency room visits and admission to acute care hospitals for medical and psychiatric complications.
- Increase of heroin purity on the street from a typical purity of 10-15% ten years ago to 60-70% today; resulting in addiction from "snorting" without intravenous use.
- Decrease in price from $20.00 a bag ten years ago to as low as $3.00 in some areas.
- Increase in availability, including rural and middle class suburban areas.
- Decrease in the age of first use, including 8th graders in certain areas of the country, and common use among high school students.
- Increase in emergency overdose incidents due to experimental users and increased heroin purity.
- Increase incidents of drug related crimes including drug trafficking.