Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

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 City's lone clinic for heroin addicts halts admissions

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lilgirllost
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Registration date : 2009-05-25

PostSubject: City's lone clinic for heroin addicts halts admissions   Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:58 am

I know this is actually a news article, but I wanted to post it under breaking news because I wanted to make sure everyone saw this one.

I did some research and there are only TWO ORT clinics in the entire state of Alaska. Both of them are federally funded. Could you imagine being at the end of your rope in your addiction, finally admitting you had a problem, finally reaching out for HELP and being told "sorry, we don't have room for you right now" and being put on a waiting list that could go on for 200 days or more??!!! My gosh, they are even having to turn away PREGNANT women and the use to give them priority over every one else and never even PUT a pregnant woman on a waiting list!

Those of us who attend private pay clinics know they have their problems, but at least we know that we can't be turned away because there are no funds to pay for our treatment.

They say in this article it would only take $200,000 to get their funding for both clinics to be able to treat everyone on their waiting list right now. That is alot of money but in the scheme of things and knowing how much the for profit clinics probably bring in and how much money gets wasted in our country on a daily basis for nonessential things, this amount is nothing! It is such a shame that small amount keeps people from being able to be helped when they need it most.

My heart goes out to these people who are being turned away in their time of need and I wanted to share the story with you guys.


This was taken from the ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS at http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/957900.html?mi_pluck_action=comment_submitted&qwxq=4954578#Comments_Container


HEROIN ADDICTS: Not enough funds to treat 'drug of choice.'

By JAMES HALPIN
mailto: jhalpin@adn.com
Published: October 1st, 2009 09:16 PM
Last Modified: October 2nd, 2009 11:35 AM


Anchorage's only methadone clinic, facing an influx of patients and not enough funding to treat them, has stopped accepting into treatment all new patients, including pregnant women.

The downtown Narcotic Drug Treatment Center has been plagued with waiting lists for years, and until last week was accepting pregnant women on a priority basis. It now has 87 patients on its active roster but is only funded for 85, said clinical director Ron Greene. There are 12 more people on a wait list to get in, he said.

As of Sept. 24, the clinic was above its capacity. Greene said the center will continue to admit patients onto the wait list and offer some services but will not enroll anyone in treatment until others leave.

Part of the problem is a surge in heroin available in Southcentral Alaska, Greene said.

"It's in such abundance, and it's so cheap out there that everything else is secondary," Greene said. "We don't even have a close second running drug of choice on this program. Right now, it is heroin and has been for the past three years."

Sgt. Kathy Lacey, supervisor of the vice unit said in the past year police have arrested more than 60 heroin dealers, many of them young, white men. The drug's use is booming for any number of reasons, but a big contributor is the fact that it's cheap, available and highly addictive, she said. It's now a priority target for the vice unit, she said.

"It is a huge problem," Lacey said. "It used to be that every prostitute that we arrested on the street had a crack pipe, and now they're all hooked on heroin."

Many of them also say they want help, she said.

"Which we would never hear with crack-cocaine," Lacey said. "Heroin addiction is so dramatic and so compelling that it completely takes over their lives and they want to quit."

Greene's center gives its patients, under close supervision, liquid methadone, a drug that reduces opiate withdrawal symptoms. There was a time dozens of people were on the waiting list, but after months and months many drop off, Greene said.

Other drug treatment centers across the state offer drug counseling without the medication, but addicts have an easier time with methadone because it reins in withdrawal symptoms.

Part of the center's funding comes through a federal block grant that requires it to get intravenous drug users in the program within 120 days.

"We've had people sitting on wait lists for up to 247 days and so that puts us out of compliance," Greene said.

But the vast majority of the nonprofit's funding comes from the state. It is one of just two methadone programs in the state; the other is the Interior AIDS Association in Fairbanks.

That program is also at capacity, said its executive director, Anna Nelson. There are 32 people in the program and several more on the waiting list. Twenty people have applications pending, though a number of them are likely to back out, she said.

"Part of that is because we don't have capacity right now," Nelson said. "It's a no-win deal for everybody."

Most clients in Fairbanks report prescription drugs as their drugs of choice because heroin is not as available there, Nelson said. But it is up and coming there.

Greene said some counts have estimated there are 16,000 opiate addicts in Alaska. But as heroin use has risen, substance abuse treatment has faced flat funding and hasn't kept up with the demand for treatment, Greene said.

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anch., said he and others, including Sen. Johnny Ellis, plan to push for more funding for the programs, though in years past they have faced opposition in the Legislature. About $200,000 is needed to wipe out the wait lists at both the Anchorage and Fairbanks clinics, he said.

"If now that pregnant heroin addicts aren't getting help is the thing that's going to make people say, 'OK, we'll start providing decent funding for this,' then that's great," Gara said. "The treatment center has never had to turn away pregnant women, but you shouldn't turn away anybody who wants to get off a heroin addiction."


RuthAnn
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