Methadone patients predict increase in crimeIf the Lake Superior Treatment Center closes on Oct. 8, current and former patients said they expect street crime to increase as addicts seek other ways to get drugs.
If the Lake Superior Treatment Center closes on Oct. 8, current and former patients said they expect street crime to increase as addicts seek other ways to get drugs.
“There’s going to be a lot more violence, more home invasions, more deaths,” said Bridgett Tadych, who has been going to the clinic since 2008. “People are going to go back to what they were doing. There will be crime, more people in jails.”
Methadone is used to replace addicts’ use of opiate-based drugs such as heroin or narcotic painkillers such as OxyContin. But meth-adone also is highly addictive, and people on treatment who come off the drug are supposed to do so under the supervision of a physician and at a slow pace, with dose strength reduced week by week, or even month by month.
Several opiate addicts have told the News Tribune that it’s harder to come off methadone than heroin.
“They’re going to get really sick,” said Jason Aebli, who has been a patient at the clinic for the past 2½ years. “There are going to be a lot of people who are not going to be able to go to work, who are not going to be able to take care of their kids.”
The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which moved to revoke the clinic’s license, has no firm plan for what to do with the Treatment Center’s 400-plus patients, but they are looking for options.
“I can’t tell the clients there today where exactly they’re going to go,” said Anne Barry, a DHS deputy commissioner. “Simultaneously, we are looking at what the capacities are for other providers, and what are other solutions.”
Those solutions include transporting patients to other methadone providers, but the closest one is Brainerd. Most methadone patients, especially those new to treatment, need to take a dose of methadone at the clinic each day.
That would be burdensome to clients and costly to taxpayers, as the state pays for transportation for clients who are on state-funded health care.
Barry also said the state would look into having other health-care providers in the region provide methadone services on a temporary basis, but those providers would have to show they meet state and federal guidelines to provide those services.
St. Louis County’s director of human services, Ann Bushey, said she would look to the state for how to deal with the majority of the Duluth clinic’s clients.
“We’ll work with all the clients that we know of, that we’re aware of,” Bushey said. “And we’ll work with the state to develop a plan. We are hopeful and confident that the state is developing a plan for these individuals.”
Aebli, who said methadone has helped turn his life around, predicted that the problem of illegal sales of prescribed doses will seem minor compared to what will happen if the clinic closes.
“Some people are going to die because of this,” he said.