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methadone

Kevin Boggs is a patient at one of three methadone clinics in Seattle. He moved into the Jungle last winter, which makes it easier to show up for his daily treatment.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Kevin Boggs moved to Seattle to pursue his glass blowing dreams, but today he stands in line at a methadone clinic.


Bella Barger and Erik Nelson take light rail to get to their methadone treatment.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Barger and Nelson live in a tent city in the University District. They used to use a lot of drugs. But that changed when they found out Barger was pregnant.

“We made steps to change really fast,” Nelson said. “We’ve come a long way in the last three months.”

Every day, the couple makes their way to a methadone clinic on Capitol Hill. They used to take the bus. Now that the light rail station is open, they take the train. Their trips are paid for with a special monthly transit pass called Hopelink.

A Boston nonprofit plans to soon test a new way of addressing the city's heroin epidemic. The idea is simple. Along a stretch of road that has come to be called Boston's "Methadone Mile," the program will open a room in March with a nurse, some soft chairs and basic life-saving equipment — a place where heroin users can ride out their high, under medical supervision.

The latest numbers show that deaths from heroin-related overdose more than tripled nationally between 2002 and 2013. Opiate addiction touches every demographic: white, black, Hispanic, rural, suburban and urban.

Proposed solutions nationally include more government funding for treatment, tougher penalties for dealers, and proactive interventions to stop people before they start.

As Heroin Booms, Recovery Clinics Struggle To Keep Up

May 2, 2014
Jamie Heidenreich rides back to Hoquiam after getting methadone treatment in Olympia, Wash. It's an hour each way.
KUOW Photo/Elizabeth Jenkins

Heroin, the drug of the 90s, is back and thriving in Washington state.

“A hot batch of heroin hits the streets, and we will know it in a couple of hours because of the overdoses,” Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said. In Washington, opiate-related deaths have doubled in the past decade.

But efforts to provide recovery services have struggled to keep up with the drugs. And for many, particularly in rural areas where distances stretch for hours, it can be tough to reach clinics.

It has been seven years and two months since I woke from my coma. My eyelids were taped shut and my arms were cuffed to some unknown object. The first sense that came back was sound. I could hear the voices of doctors and nurses chatting about the weather.

I distinctly remember a doctor poking my bare feet with a scalpel. "Vegetable," I heard him say. Everything was blackness. "God, help me, what have I done?" I thought. I'm in hell, and I put myself here.