Punishing Methadone Clinics Who Take Away an Addict’s Meds Like Drug Dealers

methadone clinicsMethadone, Suboxone and Naltrexone are all legitimate medicine assisted treatment (MAT) options for heroin addiction with a proven success rate. So this is not an anti-MAT article that criticizes genuine treatments and stigmatizes Suboxone or Methadone by claiming that using them is “replacing one drug with another”. In another article called “Suboxone and Methadone: The Brutal Truth About Medicine Assisted Treatment” we explain in great detail why those utilizing MAT as instructed and directed by a medical professional are adhering to the principles of recovery vs addiction. Thus, we believe those who select Suboxone, Methadone or Naltrexone (which includes the Vivitrol shot or the oral ReVia tablet) are clean and sober.

Methadone and Suboxone Patients are Dependent on Their Medication

But, there is a problem. People who use Suboxone and Methadone in particular become dependent on it. This means that their body will go into “shock” and thus, experience withdrawal if they don’t employ a taper and/or are stopped abruptly from taking their medication.  See “Addiction Vs. Dependence: What is the Difference?”  This here, is where the problem lies. And this here, is where less than ethical Methadone clinics and Suboxone doctors have their patients in their clutches.

Abruptly Stopping MAT May Result in a Relapse, Heroin Overdose and Death

heroin overdoseFor whatever reason a Methadone or Suboxone patient can no longer obtain their medication, they will likely experience withdrawal.  Opiate and heroin addicts typically choose MAT as a tool to help get them to stop using because they are deathly afraid of the heroin withdrawal they will experience if they go cold turkey off of it.  So if a Methadone clinic or Suboxone doctor decides to cut off a patient’s medication, there’s a likely chance this patient will relapse and go back to using heroin.  Those who relapse have an increased chance of overdose and as a result, death.

So you can imagine our shock and anger as an organization when we were told that by one of our members who happens to be a mother that her daughter died from a heroin overdose after she was booted from her MAT clinic for lack of payment.  See “My Daughter Died – She Was Kicked Out of a State Program Because of No Money“.  So we ask the question, should the state MAT clinic be held accountable for this woman’s death?  Was the $150 or so that they couldn’t acquire for another week worth this woman’s life?

Punishing Methadone Clinics and Suboxone Doctors For Taking Away an Addict’s Medication

Methadone Clinic ClosedAddiction treatment centers, clinics, drug rehabs, organizations, ,etc. need funding to exist and thrive.  Moreover, people need money to survive.  Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide understands and has no problem with Methadone clinics and Suboxone doctors getting paid for good quality, ethical work.  The best drug rehab facilities and MAT clinics will always work with existing patients / recovering addicts rather than discontinue their involvement if they can’t pay for a week or two.  But those who treat patients like customers and care more about the money they’re putting in their pocket than the recovering addict’s well being, ,these clinics need to be shut down and even potentially punished.

Clinics that withhold a patient’s medication and/or boot them from the program are basically imposing a “forced relapse” on them.  The fear of heroin or MAT withdrawal is often so strong that a recovering addict will relapse and use heroin again just to escape from feeling dreaded withdrawal symptoms.  Those who relapse often aren’t aware that their tolerance went down and can’t use as much as they used to.  So they overdose because their body goes into shock from too much heroin intake.  Many heroin overdose victims die.  So MAT clinics who withhold a patient’s medication or boot them from the program could be sentencing a recovering addict to death, much like a drug dealer.

Drug DealersShould Methadone clinics or Suboxone doctors be punished like drug dealers if someone they’ve booted out relapses and dies?  Perhaps this sounds harsh, but how harsh is it to tell someone who depends on their medication or else they may experience excruciating side effects and withdrawal symptoms without it that they’re no longer going to provide their medication?  Does this sound fair?  Will the clinic go under and all of its employees be jobless if a couple patients can’t pay for one week?  And how doe kicking them out of the program bring the clinic the money they’re missing?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to work something out with the patient so that the patient’s needs are continually met while they work on resolving whatever financially difficult situation they fell into?

What about the MAT Clinic?  What’s Fair For Them?

We understand that at some point, with ample warnings and/or trying to work with a patient who may not be paying for a long time, the MAT clinic may have to discontinue any working relationship with their patient.  However, it is Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide’s opinion that removing them from the clinic should be a last resort after doing everything they can to give their financially challenged patient every opportunity to work things out.  What is Your Opinion?

Giving Medicine Assisted Treatment a Bad Name

We’ve previously discussed that patients who abuse medicine assisted treatment programs by using other drugs while getting treated or by upping their methadone ultra-high give medicine assisted treatment a bad name, that and the patient drug dealers waiting outside methadone clinics in particular selling to anyone and everyone who aren’t serious and/or aren’t ready to fully commit to sobriety.  But the fact that patients are so dependent on their medication and could lose it at anytime if a less than reputable / ethical MAT clinic decides to withhold it makes both Suboxone and Methadone less appealing.

So What’s the Solution?

MAT clinics need to stop treating their patients like customers. Treatment centers need to start putting a patient’s wellbeing ahead of profit.  Recovering addicts should only choose Suboxone or Methadone if they’re serious and ready to commit to treatment.  MAT clinics need to get better at educating recovering addict patients about the medication they offer, their program, dependency, tapering and the commitment.

Published By,

William – Publisher and Founder of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™

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3 thoughts on “Punishing Methadone Clinics Who Take Away an Addict’s Meds Like Drug Dealers

  1. Concord NH clinic is famous for doing this! Changing rules depending on who you are, and always blaming the state for everything. For example Im a snow bird, I always got travel take homes, not anymore. Not even allowed to apply even tho Nothing changed. Now Im stuck couch surfing first time in 10 years! My RV isn’t winter proof. Also driving in 6 feet of snow, its kinda scary. Used to give storm take homes but not anymore.They said it’s the states fault,even when the state asks you to stay off the roads? !hmm Today I wasnt allowed to dose,my councilor forgot to write down that we met,so I was uncompliant?!? They then said I had to wait an hour and maybe get into a group, then I could dose after. Or come back at closing,11:30. Fine, except I had a dentist appointment @11,it was 10, So I was unable to do either. The director said oh well, guess you don’t get to dose today. So I got to leave with out dosing, 200mg! Of course anyone that knows withdrawal knows what happened next.. I cancelled my dentist appointment. What happens next,groups are all full! One guy that actually signed up for the group was turned away! So then I was stuck waiting until 11:30. Along with 30 other people. Most just left. I’ve been told by a few of the workers they consider themselves legal dealers. I don’t agree, dealers are usually nicer.when it comes to this clinic anyway. 9 years sober, but still feel like a prisoner. There’s got to be a better way.

  2. Clinics in Oregon lack supervision except card licensing BY APPOINTMENT ONLY every few years. No county inspectors. As they make their $off of so-called treatment groups and counseling by way under-efucated staff some of whom are mentally I’ll or in relapse themselves. Literally a hot dog stand in Portland is more closely inspected and held accountable for torturous abuses than a methadone clinic, I kid not!! Patients die each year by hands of corporate clinic greed –an open secret none wants to see. I have 43 years experience in and around clinics in about six states as family member, patient and advocate. I am planning a regular podcast to expose abuses, give patients voice thru interviews and fight for change. I need help from honest professionals willing to come forward. Please advise and help us save lives.

  3. I wanted to leave a comment to say that this spoke volumes to me. I was shown positive on a drug screen and honest to god i never used! As punishment, I was taken an entire 4 mg off of my 8mg suboxone dose! I can only get my medication AFTER a 5 hour group therapy, which gets ol after 5 months. I am a student in college on multiple scholarships and broke my neck to stay out of trouble with the school! It is a reputable school as well. I can’t imagine why they would do this to me…especially the people living in worse areas where the pain can be taken away just a few blocks down the road! However, I might add i’ve already experienced the trials and errors of drug addiction. I haven’t been addicted long but it doesn’t care what family your from what your education level is. Actually, the richer and more ignorant the better. Dealers will use all they can out of you and ruin your face and your personal outlook on life. My boyfriend literally S O L D me. This shit is out of line for doctors to do. These clinics are so ignorant of the pain majority of drug users experienced. It is n’t funny and i’m not going to talk about it with a group of people. I don’t know how to explain it but. To have me in withdrawals where my eyes are sweating (the skin above by eyebrow area all around) is EXACTLY what the drug dealer did! They have the power to make u beg. So you go to the counter asking nicely if you can have your medicine before group. How is it legal for them to open my medication anyways? Thank goodness there’s a voice that listens. We aren’t all bottom gutter people with low IQs and speak intelligibly. Actually, some hold bachelors and PhD. They just don’t want to stand out. And you shouldn’t have to show that to be respected. Its sickening. I hope someone walks into one of these places sometime just to witness it. I can promise you…wear a T-shirt and jersey shorts and blend in. You’ll be talked to like a child.
    This is a community crisis. This isn’t new and has been ongoing. Just took it til now because it hit middle class. Sad.

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