Methadone in a disaster

I’ve been thinking about methadone patients in Florida over the last few days. I can’t imagine.

Vox has a nice first person piece on what it’s like.

“It’s awful. I haven’t dosed in 5 days.”

The message popped up on my Facebook feed on August 29, a day after Hurricane Harvey first hit Texas. A woman named Clair, a methadone patient who lives near Houston, could not make it through the flood waters to get the dose she needed. She was going through withdrawal.

. . .

The desperation of Clair’s comment reminded me of my own experience trying to obtain methadone doses in the middle of a natural disaster. It was the Fall of 2013 when Boulder was hit with record floods that destroyed 1,500 homes and took the lives of eight people. On the day of the flood, I was stranded at home with no way to access a methadone clinic. I was five months pregnant. Missing my dose wasn’t just about being in pain — it was about my unborn baby, who might not have survived the physical toll of withdrawal.

Not having access to methadone was my worst fear. It’s a fear that consumed both body and mind, fueled by memories of nights without heroin, and rumors shared in the clinic waiting rooms that methadone withdrawals are even worse.

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2 responses to “Methadone in a disaster

  1. longtermrecovery

    This really emphasises the benefits of full recovery, supported by your local and other mutual-aid / 12 step groups. How can it be made more widely available?

    • I meet a lot of people who choose to get off maintenance treatments because they don’t like the gnawing anxiety about missing a dose because of some circumstance beyond their control (like a disaster) or simply forgetting to bring it when traveling.

      Access to drug-free treatments of adequate intensity, duration and quality is a real problem. It should be available to everyone.

      At the same time, I believe any addict who prefers maintenance meds should have access to them. That being the case, it seems like it should be a no-brainer to change policies to allow take-home doses when there’s the threat of a disaster that might interfere with access.