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Methadone and Drugs Like It Keep People Alive, So Why Don’t All Clinics Offer Them?

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A quest through California to find which addiction and recovery centers aren’t using medication-assisted treatment—our country’s best bet for beating the opioid crisis.

Stephanie comes into the room spitting mad. After 25 years of injecting crushed-up painkiller pills and heroin—25 years of stealing from her parents, two DUIs, possession charges, selling drugs, all of that—she is 92 days sober. She has just graduated from her 90-day residential rehab, which she says was life-changing. In fact, she liked it so much, she wanted to stay on as what’s called a senior resident, which involves doing small chores and checking that other residents are following the rules that she credits with having helped in her own recovery: getting up early, keeping their rooms clean, and attending classes that taught them about the principles of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. (Stephanie is a pseudonym; she requested anonymity for this story, to protect her living situation.)

She found it so fulfilling to help other people with addictions that she wants to keep doing so. But, in so many words, her counselor has told her that, to become a senior resident, she’d have to quit her methadone program.

“I was, like, Fuck off,” she says, flipping the bird to an imaginary person to the right of me. “I’m not getting off methadone. It’s the only thing that’s helped me stay clean. I mean yeah, going to the meetings and stuff, but the basis is methadone. It’s the only thing that fills that gap when I was waiting for something throughout the day, and nothing ever came because I wasn’t using. With methadone, I don’t have to use.”

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Thanks !

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