Michel Negroponte's documentary
about Methadone users is very personal. He follows several users who go to a Manhattan group, the New York Center for Addiction Treatment Services, on Broadway and
Houston, just next to NYU. They talk about their drug experiences, their
regrets, and their problems, as well as their hopes for the future. These
women and men have lives that are in ruins. Many of the people we see have
been addicted to various drugs for decades, and the prospect for their recovery
is not good. Others do manage to stop taking methadone, but the documentary
makes clear how difficult it is to do this. According to the Office
of National Drug Control Policy, "Methadone is a rigorously
well-tested medication that is safe and efficacious for the treatment of
narcotic withdrawal and dependence," but most of the users in Methadonia
take methadone with other drugs, especially benzodiazepines such as Xanax and
Klonopin. We see several users nodding off while they are being interviewed,
stopping in mid-sentence, falling asleep as they sit. It is horrifying to
Negroponte emphasizes the
shattering of lives with haunting background music, close-ups of the junkies,
and occasional visual effects. But most of the emotional punch of the
documentary comes from the stories of the people as they develop over the 18
months. He also shows some success stories, with people who have managed to
either keep totally clean or stay on a stable dose of methadone. On the DVD,
there is a follow-up section showing some of the people from the documentary
later on. The characters we meet are often quite likeable and there are some
humorous moments. Yet for the most part, Methadonia is a disturbing
look into the world of drug addiction. It is an excellent resource to use in
college courses, but there is a great deal of cursing in the documentary, and
this may make it inappropriate for showing in high schools. There's a short
primer, "Addiction and Methadone 101," on the DVD, which is also
© 2006 Christian Perring. All
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main
research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.
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