A new documentary, “Methadonia,” scheduled for HBO tonight, spotlights a bleak side of methadone, a synthetic opiate used to prevent the euphoric effect of heroin and to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal from it, says the New York Times. Said one player in the film: “We just went from underworld characters to movie stars,” said William Cornax, 50, who has been on methadone for 30 years. “Who knew we’d get famous for being ex-junkies,” said Mario Belfiore, 66, who kicked his heroin habit 45 years ago. He has been using methadone – sometimes known as liquid handcuffs – for 30 years, but still suffers relapses with pill addictions.
The film has drawn heavy criticism from advocates of methadone treatment who say it unfairly concentrates on users who have suffered from mismanaged programs and excludes those who have had successful recoveries. Negroponte spent 18 months filming recovering addicts at a New York treatment center. Critics say the film exaggerates the downside of a recovery method that has been safe and successful for most users, said Andrew Kolodny of city’s Department of Health. “The former addicts profiled in the film are not representative of the vast majority of methadone users in the city, who hold jobs and support families and are not overdosing or getting H.I.V. or hepatitis C from sharing needles,” he said. Kolodny said there were 34,000 people enrolled in methadone treatment centers in the city.