HSLotsof at HSLotsof at
Wed Jan 21 06:31:07 EST 2004

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA)
For Immediate Release

Date:  January 12, 2004
Contact:  Joycelyn Woods and Walter Ginter
Phone: (212) 595-6262


NAMA has been involved in a Methadone Emergency Database Project which will 
create a way to verify a patient’s dose in the case of an emergency.  Now we 
hear that the Methadone Emergency Database Project, which we have been referring 
to as the “Patients Dignity Project”, is not going to be funded. Apparently, 
patient dignity, specifically, methadone patient dignity doesn’t have the 
support necessary. 

Why This Is Project Called The Patient Dignity Project?

The reason we call it the patient dignity project is that it will allow 
patients to go to any program and eventually any hospital and get their medicine 
immediately in the event of an emergency. Currently, in an emergency, patients 
have to wait hours to have their doses verified. When that is not possible, and 
most times it is not, patients are given a few milligrams at a time by 
worried physicians. Patients are left begging for hours for more medication. 

But MORE OFTEN THEY AREN’T MEDICATED AT ALL forcing many patients back to the 
streets from which they are escaping. That is why advocates call this the 

After September 11 many of us at NAMA became concerned about what would 
happen to methadone patients in the event of similar crisis. A number of groups, 
including NAMA formed a stakeholder committee to look into possible solutions 
for this problem and to insure that patients would never be turned away from 
programs again. 

The Methadone Emergency Database Project

Patients need a way to get their medication in times of an emergency. The 
project, funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) has just 
completed its report and is ready to advance to a demonstration project in the New 
York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. The report calls for the establishment 
of an emergency database that could be accessed only in the presence of the 
patient requesting his or her medication at a place other then the patients 
home program. The project calls for the use of a finger imaging system that 
besides being inexpensive and easy to maintain fully protects the rights, privacy 
and dignity of the patients. 

NAMA has visited programs in the states involved. The patients interviewed 
were 100% in favor of the project. 

What Happens Without The Methadone Emergency Database Project

In the past 2 years there have been at least 3 major emergencies, where 
despite the “emergencies plans” called for in the Accreditation Guidelines 
patients were left for between 1 and 3 days without medication. The Presidents Day 
Storm where at least 9 programs failed to open in the Mid Atlantic states, the 
east coast blackout, and the recent northeaster where hundreds of patients in 
Boston were left without medication despite repeated warnings about severe 

NAMA is aware that many patients were forced to resort to heroin during those 
emergencies. There is no way to tell the ultimate impact that this had on 
patients being forced into using again.  Whatever the effects they can’t be good. 

If an emergency database were available those patients could have gone to any 
program, and eventually any emergency room, to get their medicine.

What Should Happen Next?

The next stage is just a demonstration project and admittedly it will be 
several years before all the kinks are ironed out and it is ready to go national. 
But this is the start of a strategy to insure that ALL patients are able to 
get their medication no matter the crisis. By not being funded the project will 
be delayed further and we can’t wait another thirty-five years. 

NAMA believes that this project is important and should take precedence over 
other projects. We encourage all advocates, methadone patients, friends and 
family of methadone patients and all concerned individuals to contact Mr. Curie 
of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and 
Dr. Clark of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and tell them 
that you care about the dignity of methadone patients and encourage them to fund 
the Methadone Emergency Database Project. 

The email links for the esteemed gentlemen mentioned are listed below:

wclark at                      ccurie at       

Please e-mail them today and tell them you support the Methadone Emergency 
Database Project. Ask your friends and family to do the same. 


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