I was raised in an upper middle class family however I began drinking in my teenage years and using pot around 18. When I first tried heroin it was the thing that was missing from life – I did not feel normal all my life. When I was first detoxed I asked if they could give me methadone. This was before methadone maintenance and of course they thought I was just crazy asking for it. Therefore I never wanted to stop and when I entered treatment because methadone maintenance became available it was to save money. I decided I wanted to go to England (my father was Canadian) and get on their morphine prescription program and live there. Then I realized that methadone worked just as well. I always believed that opiate addiction had some genetic component or that something predisposed some people to opiate addiction because my father was a morphine addict.
I still had very low self-esteem and this was because of my perception all my life that I was different and something was wrong. It took another event for me to see myself as doing something with my life. I went to a meeting at Rockefeller University and met the first methadone advocacy group The Committee of Concerned Methadone Patients. These were patients that worked with Drs Dole and Nyswander and had a very different image of themselves. I recall one speaker who was introduced as a lawyer and spoke about the new “regs”, he kept saying “we have to do this” or “we have to do that”. I turned to the person next to me and said that’s really nice for a lawyer to think of us as equal to him. She said whadda mean equal, he’s a patient on my program. Wow if he can be a lawyer maybe I can do something other than be a clerk with very bad skills (I’m a terrible typist when I have to type fast). But that started me thinking about going back to college and I graduated in 1984 from Hunter College with a graduate degree in Biological Psychology and a focus on pharmacology and neuroscience (endorphin systems). I did my research at Rockefeller University and published one of the first papers mapping opiate receptors.
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