Treatment Program Offers Take-Home Methadone Option

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(Host) For the first time, people who are receiving treatment for heroin addiction in Vermont will be allowed to take home a drug widely used to treat their addiction. A Burlington treatment center says beginning Friday it will expand its program to include take-home methadone.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Until now, the 108 clients of Burlington’s Chittenden Center have had to go in every day to receive methadone to treat their addiction. Allowing patients to take methadone home will free them from the daily visits. Bob Bick is with Howard Center, which operates the methadone program.

(Bick) “These are folks who are contributing members of our community right now, who have long standing sobriety and basically whose lives are completely disrupted by the requirement that they need to come to the clinic every day. And there’s no clinical justification for requiring them to come.”

(Zind) Bick says the center will start by giving a few clients a single day’s dose to take home. Eventually the Chittenden Center hopes to provide qualified clients with up to a week’s worth of methadone. Bick says drug testing and random spot checks will make sure the methadone is being used properly. Without those safeguards the methadone could be abused or sold on the street.

Bick says ultimately the take-home program will allow the center to treat more people for heroin addiction. The center currently has well over 100 people waiting for treatment.

(Bick) “I suspect some of them are struggling to try to go cold turkey, perhaps. Some of them might be trying to participate in some kind of residential detoxification program. But unfortunately, probably the vast majority of them are continuing to use and abuse opiates.”

(Zind) The Chittenden Center is currently the only methadone treatment facility in the Vermont. Bick says the center is also seeking state approval to add to its counseling staff in order to increase the number of people it treats.

The state hopes to have a mobile methadone clinic in operation this fall.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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