Since the fifties, methadone has been touted as the only solution to opioid addiction. These days, when prescription opioids are the second most popular drugs for abuse and heroin is an easy runner-up, methadone appears to be a lifeline for tens of thousands of people.
Don’t be fooled by clever marketing, however. More and more, the tale is the same—methadone more addictive than heroin; methadone leads to lethal overdose; methadone causes a lifetime of addiction.
The case of Jennifer Vanlieu in Richmond, Indiana is a good example of how methadone clinics are becoming small town killers.
From Methadone Patient to Convicted Drug Dealer
Vanlieu became a methadone patient to kick her addiction to painkillers and heroin. In 2010, after leaving a methadone clinic with a carryout dose, she gave 15 milligrams to her friend Carissa Plemons. That dose proved fatal, landing Vanlieu in jail.
According to Vanlieu, selling methadone is common practice on the street. Methadone clinics make it easier to deal, and it’s big money. In her case, she merely gave it away to a friend and she got six years in jail.
Vanlieu received her dose from a CRC clinic. CRC Health Corporation is owned by Bain Capital Partners (from Boston) and is the largest provider of methadone in the United States.
In recent years, clinics have begun offering carryout doses of methadone for a number of reasons. In some areas, the caseload is so great that counselors are unable to deal with the number of patients—so carryout methadone is something, at least. In other areas, patients live so far away that they would never be able to make it in to the clinic every day. According to counselors, carryout doses allow them to stay off illegal drugs.
These are all very good excuses, but the risks involved in carryout methadone far outweigh the reasons why. Where are the “drug-free”programs in these clinics? Where is the drug education?
Unfortunately you won’t see much in the way of effective solutions for addicts. What you will see, however, are lifelong patients—and, therefore, lifelong profits. And in many cases, lifelong drug dealers.
Methadone in Small Towns
In small towns peppered with CDC clinics, it is common to find methadone involved in criminal cases. In fact, officials in Dearborn County, Indiana are working on a vast expansion to the local jail, due in part to the crimes tied to CDC’s nearby clinic.
Whether dealing methadone or sharing with friends, the ramifications are not good. Patients have been found robbing banks in order to pay for methadone. People hoard methadone in their homes, selling it to pay for other drugs. Overdose is common, especially accidental overdose by children.
This is not only due to negligence on the part of methadone clinics, although that is a major factor. The truth is, no matter how promising it seems, methadone does not treat opioid addiction. It merely shifts the direction of addiction.
Methadone and Opioids
Like morphine and heroin, methadone has been falsely marketed as an “addiction-free”solution to opioid addiction. Yet any methadone patient will tell you that methadone is harder to get away from than heroin. Let’s call a spade a spade. Methadone is merely another form of big business, and its profits come at the expense of a great number of innocent lives.