Anna Nicole Smith and Methadone A Brief History of Methadone

It is very difficult to ignore the controversy surrounding the life and death of Anna Nicole Smith and her 19 year old son Daniel. Among the unanswered questions in this debate is the identity of the biological father of Ms. Smith's five months old baby Dannielynn. And there is also the unresolved issue of the final resting place for Ms.

Smith; will it be in Texas or the Bahamas. These and all other important issues will eventually reach resolution by the appropriate authorities, individuals, and family members. However, I am drawn to the controversy by the speculation among people in the mass media that methadone is involved in the death of Anna Nicole and her 19 year old son Daniel.

Since these are just speculations and not facts it could be sometime before we know if methadone played any part in the death of Anna Nicole and her son. If there is a silver lining in this very dark cloud it would be that the drug methadone is back in the spotlight after more than four decades in obscurity. In fact, methadone has a very interesting history in its own rights, that society and the media seems to have forgotten. In this article will attempt to fill that void. In 1975 I completed an extensive study on the history of methadone to meet the requirement of an independent research study.

Most of what to follow are excerpts of that unpublished thesis. Methadone was introduced to the medical community in 1960 by Dr. Marie Nyswander and Dr.

Vincent P. Dole, a husband and wife team. Methadone was considered, at that time, a scientific breakthrough and the most advanced step in the medical community. However, this new medical breakthrough was not immediately put into use to ease physically pain as it was promoted to do. Instead, Nyswander and Dole are called into service to use their discovery as armaments in the "war against drugs" in America.

Historical perspective Methadone is a synthetic chemical discovered by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was called "dolophine" after the country's leader Adolph Hitler. Methadone was used as an anesthetic when their pain killing opiates were in short supply. Today, methadone continues to be used as a pain killer for certain medical condition. Methadone is addictive as is all other opiates such as heroin, Demerol, morphine, barbiturates, and alcohol.

In which case, abuse or misuse of these drugs will result in two major consequences, (1) systemic bodily tolerance and (2) specific physical withdrawal symptoms that occur with discontinued use. In 1960 a conference on narcotic and drug abuse was convened in recognition that drug traffic and abuse was rapidly becoming a critical national concern; a fact that was already common knowledge in many communities in the United States. Huge quantities of drugs were moving through illicit channels despite the best efforts of law enforcement agencies across the nation. For example, a flood of stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogenic drugs were coming into widespread misuse, due primarily to the breakdown of the legal control system.

The problem of drug abuse in large inter-city, especially the Black community, begin growing and spilling over into the white middle-class community. The informed public became painfully aware of the social and economic damage to the greater society as a result of increased illicit drug abuse. Soon there was a rallying cry from leaders in the community demanding that the elected political representatives take positive steps to stem the growing problem of drug addition. At the same time, organized criminals engaged in drug trafficking were making extraordinary profits. To support their drug habits, addicted individuals were stealing millions of dollars in goods and property which escalated the public fear of robbery, burglary, and street crime.

The police, courts, prisons, and social service agencies were devoting huge amounts of time and resources in an effort to control drug abuse with little or no success. As a last resort, the political community turned to the medical profession for help. It was agreed that some method of medical intervention, at least for heroin addition, was needed. After several trials using other modalities, methadone was the final drug of choice. The use of methadone in the treatment of heroin addition has, of its very nature, profound political implications and the attempt to control deviant behavior rather than an effective cure in the traditional medical model.

In other words, methadone is being used as "chemical-policing. In spite of the highly controversial issue concerning the exchange of one type of drug addition for another methadone clinics were set up across the nation for the treatment of heroin addition. It has been more that forty years since Nyswander and Dole announced their scientific breakthrough. Dole and Nyswander indicated that the use of methadone by heroin addicts appeared to alleviate their hunger for heroin, therefore, reducing the necessity for crime against property; and the need for addicted individuals to enlist new converts to the drug culture.

Since the introduction of methadone the treatment of drug addition in the United States has reached the level of big business. Methadone is now an intrinsically part of this Nation's economy and becoming more entrenched each day. The intimate doctor/patient relationship, originally sought in the methadone clinic, has been overturned. In it place is the current interest in medicaide reimbursement, client return visit, and policing clients for adherence to street drug abstinence.

I believe that the chemists, who discovered methadone, and those who introduced methadone to the United States in 1947; intended its use to ease the pain and suffering that was the by product of war and injury. Dole and Nyswander attempted to use methadone to stem the tide of heroin addition and its social ills in the United States. Historical precedent of medical model The methadone cure is in keeping with other drug dependency cures put forth by "experts" throughout this country's history. The medical profession historically had sought to cure drug dependency with another dependent-producing drug. Morphine was used to try and cure opium addition.

When heroin came along, about a hundred years later, its name was derived from its reported ability to cure morphine addition. In 1919 the morphine addition clinics were set up to supply morphine addicts with morphine in the manner methadone is being dispensed today. After three years these clinics had to be closed due to the alarming increase in morphine addition that they seem to cause. All the evidence suggests that methadone is a repeat of history and that the result will be a more serious addition problem. I fail to appreciate how legalized addition is any improvement over illicit addition. In fact, morally it is much less defensible because it indicates that society is actively abetting the well-proven personality deterioration and social demoralization that have invariably accompanied drug addition throughout history.

Dr. Smith is a psychologist and personal consultant with more than 30 years experience. Visit my website at

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