Where’s the Safety Net when Methadone Treatment Centers Close?


September 26, 2012; Source: Las Vegas CityLife

In southern Nevada, recovering heroin addicts are wondering what they are supposed to do now that a major methadone treatment center has closed its doors. The Nevada Treatment Center, the oldest nonprofit methadone clinic in southern Nevada, says it had to quit providing services because it has been consistently losing money. That leaves only one the Adelson Clinic to serve all indigent methadone users in the Las Vegas area. Eight other nonprofits serve patients who can afford to pay or who have insurance. Adelson says it gets enough state funding to serve 133 patients, but it has requests for treatment from more than 200 patients.

A similar situation is playing out in Duluth, Minn., where the Minnesota Department of Human Services revoked the license of a clinic that served 400-plus patients. In the Duluth case, the clinic was the only methadone provider in town. Current and former patients there told the local newspaper they expect to see an increase in street crime as addicts look for new ways to get drugs. They expect many former addicts to revert to using heroin, which is easier to obtain that methadone.

The closing of these programs comes as the media reports on an increase in heroin and prescription drug abuse by teenagers. The Seattle Times reported last week that “[a]n estimated 23 million Americans, 9 percent of those age 12 and older, needed treatment for illicit drug or for alcohol use in 2010, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Only one in 10 got that care.” –Mary Jo Draper

  • Sapphire

    The closing of center’s that treat addiction is bad news for everyone.

    The patients at these clinics, if they cannot get treatment elsewhere, will have all sorts of problems like potentially losing their jobs, families, and even their lives, as addiction is a chronic relapsing condition.

    Drug abuse in general is on the increase, so there is need for more of these clinic’s, not shutting down the ones that do exist.

    New clinic’s wanting to start up often face a backlash from the local community, who do not realise that addicts in treatment are not going to be commitingcrime to fund their addiction, so crime in the area will likely go down, not up as a lot of people think.

    If addiction is ignored, people with addiction problems will become more and more marginalised, and find it much harder to reintegrate back into society.

  • Chuck Hilger

    Methadone treatment is riddled with stigma, stereotypes and myths despite a mountain of scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness. These negative views on methadone are based primarily on two problems that exist. First, the “face” of the methadone patient is represented by the 10% of the patients that have the greatest challenges, and end up involved in the legal system or some other avenue attracting negative attention. What about the 250,000 patients for whom methadone has helped them to improve their quality of life? And I’ve often wondered why other “traditional” treatment approaches are not “blamed” when a patient makes a bad choice or relapses during or after treatment? In methadone it is often the providers or the medication that are found to be at fault. This leads to more negative views on methadone treatment. Second, as a treatment modality opite addiction treatment is extremely underfunded. Opiate addiction treatment is the single most regulated treatment approach in addiction. Programs are often licensed by a state board of pharmacy, a dept of human services, the DEA, the Cener for Substance Abuse Treatment has to approve an agency and there is a mandatory accreditation process and status that must be maintained. They must have Medical Directors, nurses, and counselors at a minimum. Many facilities must also support staff; receptionist, billing staff, technicians to collect urine samples, process intakes, screen potential clients, work with insurance companies and the list goes on – there is the cost of the medications, IT support, community outreach…. Unfortunately because of ignorance regarding how involved and complicated this process is the persons responsible for setting reimbursement rates keep cutting. Some states pay as little as 5.00 per day. When providers lose funding they cut support staff, assign required duties to nurses and counselors and the quality of treatment drops significantly. At a time when opiate addiction is the fastest growing addiction problem there are those attempting to reduce rates further based on the type of publicity we have seen in Duluth MN. So lets stop looking at the 10%, use comparable measuring devices if we need to compare modalities and lastly let’s make sure that providers have the funding necassary to do the job. This is possible Its already being done by providers in areas of the country fortunate enough to have reasonable funding streams.

  • ben lopez

    Ben Michael Lopez shared a link.
    12 minutes ago
    This is the main reason I was selected to appear before the State Legislature in Sacramento some time ago. I challenged the Governors rep. after he suggested that they were seeking alternative methods for methadone treatment. Sarcastically,
    I said,” what do you suggest? Yoga? or perhaps a stringent exercise program? As an X addict, a user of heroin for over 50 yrs. and someone who had spent many yrs. in prison due to the results of active addiction, there is no effort that I had not made to quit my addiction and to lead a normal life. It was only after getting onto a methadone program was I able to accumulate 7 yrs. of a “clean and sober” life, become a active member of society and a family member to those I love. I guaranteed those in a decision making position that the price for closing the clinics would be 10 times as much for legal costs to incarcerate and convict addicts that return to active addiction due to the purposed closure of the already established clinics. The old adage, “Save a penny and waste a dollar” definitely applies in this case. The warning I provided then, is now proving to be coming to fruition!
    Where’s the Safety Net when Methadone Treatment Centers Close?
    As several methadone clinics close their doors, former addicts in Nevada and Minnesota say that, without methadone available to them, they will revert to crime and using heroin.
    Like ·

  • Tom Charles

    Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) provides the heroin addict with individualized health care and medically prescribed methadone to relieve withdrawal symptoms, reduces the opiate craving, and brings about a biochemical balance in the body.

  • Lupe

    If your on Methadone you are hardly clean and sober dumbass!

  • Tom Charles

    Methadone Treatment helps to eliminate the cravings that are so strongly associated with opiate addiction, which plays a huge role in determining whether a patient will make it through opiate withdrawal or will suffer a relapse.