Narcotics addiction, until a few years ago, was not regarded by most physicians as a serious medical problem. Little was said on the subject when most of us were in medical school and in residency training except for warnings that addicts must be watched carefully whenever we might be obliged to treat them for complications. Addiction was seen as a bizarre symptom of mental disease that might be of some interest to psychiatrists, but for the most part best left to prison hospitals and law enforcement agencies.
Since the advent of methadone hydrochloride maintenance treatment (and especially with the rapid expansion of programs in the past two years), medical participation has increased substantially. Approximately 73,000 patients, of whom one half are in the area of New York City, are now being maintained with methadone under medical supervision. At the Fifth National Conference on Methadone Treatment, held this past spring in