Among the News Tribune’s findings on methadone in Minnesota: The rate at which patients successfully complete methadone treatment in Minnesota is 5 percent. Use of methadone treatment in the state has grown 60 percent since 2007. Despite the existence of methadone treatment, the rate of opiate abuse and arrests steadily has increased over the past six years. Some methadone clinic patients sell the drug on the streets, where they can get hundreds of dollars a dose. That has resulted in an increased burden to law enforcement. Duluth police, for example, saw methadone-related calls for service double in two years, from 51 in 2009 to 108 in 2011. Taxpayers have spent $43 million since 2005 to supply methadone to people who don’t have private insurance. That doesn’t include the cost of providing patients with transportation to methadone clinics, which sometimes involves paying for cab rides as far as from Duluth to St. Cloud. Officials with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the agency charged with oversight and licensing of the state’s methadone clinics, say they didn’t keep track of how much public money was spent for treatment until that information was requested by the News Tribune. What the data showed was a 231 percent increase in spending of public money on methadone from 2005 to 2011, from $3.2 million to $10.6 million. Since 2007, state investigators have cited many of the state’s methadone clinics for more than 300 violations, the most serious of which include lying to investigators, inadequately staffing clinics and hiring untrained counselors, counselors having sexual relationships with patients, and clinics not keeping proper control of their methadone and failing to ensure that patients weren’t selling the drug. No clinic in the state has had been cited for more violations than Duluth’s Lake Superior Treatment Center. Since 2001 in Minnesota, 392 people have died from methadone-involved overdoses. In the Northland, at least 38 people have died from methadone overdoses since 2001.
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