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Illegal Street Sales of Take-Home Doses of Methadone on the Rise

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Illegal street sales of take-home doses of liquid methadone, prescribed to treat opioid addiction, are on the rise, according to law enforcement officials in Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

The diverted methadone has been tracked to clinics operated by CRC Health Corp., the article notes. CRC, owned by Bain Capital Partners, is the largest U.S. provider of methadone treatment, according to Bloomberg. Last year it operated 57 clinics in 15 states, Bloomberg reports.

Former employees say the company’s clinics are chronically understaffed, which makes it easier for take-home methadone to be abused. Former counselors say their heavy workload did not allow them to adequately counsel patients.

The clinics provide take-home packages, some with just one dose, and others containing as many as 30 doses. Police and prosecutors say in the small towns where the company has clinics, methadone has surfaced in criminal cases.

CRC Chief Executive Officer R. Andrew Eckert said take-home dosing can help keep patients on methadone, and off illegal drugs, by not making them come to the clinic every day for treatment. “Our mission is to help these individuals, but sadly, we cannot report 100 percent success,” he said. “No treatment provider can.”

Philip Herschman, Chief Clinical Officer of CRC, told Bloomberg the company follows specific and rigid state and federal rules when it decides which patients may obtain take-home doses. The company conducts spot-checks, in which it calls back patients to clinics, to account for their take-home bottles, he said. If a patient tests positive for any illicit substances, take-home doses are suspended immediately, he added.

State regulatory records show this is not always true. The records also indicate CRC’s clinics have not met staffing standards on more than 50 occasions.

3 Responses to this article

  1. GY / February 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    you know its interesting that you bring that issue up because in our counseling facility the counselor sets the pace for the session. I have never had a patient for long sit in my office without opening up you are right it is a skill set. I guess it depends on our own ethical principles. I am greatful that I was trained that counseling is a responsibility that I hold dear, and I believe my patients benefit greatly.

    If our society would not ostracise addiction especially opiate addiction then maybe patietns would not have to go to private clinics, but less face it nobody else will treat them.

  2. docbarry / February 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Here is an issue of social policy combined with for profit treatment centers that believe that less is more. Allow me to explain, Treatment, real therapeutic work, takes skill, time and that costs money. The states, in general, request the minimum levels of treatment, therefore by following those rulse, the Corporation makes more money.
    And as we say, if nothing changes, nothing changes; the junkie (never do I use that term except when I am a speaking as myself and the people I love) gets the shaft again.
    Real simple example, I know because I used to be the administrator of a MMTP. This is the way counseling used to be: Hi, how are you? (counselor), patient replies, “fine, (if I tell her that I have problems, she’ll take away my days), counselor, “Good, glad to hear things are going well, (God, when will this guy go, I’m hungry), counselor, so is there anything I can do for you today?9please say no), patient replies(God, How can I tell her what I need, she’ll just hassle me), no things are getting better, counselor, (Thank God), OK, well, I”ll see you in four weeks, ok? patient replies, Yep, thanks for all you’ve done, ( shit, thank God that’s over).
    That my friends is not how a chronic health disorder is treated. But as long as we have more addicts than treatment slots available, the aforementioned scenarios will be repeated, time, after time after time.
    I just thought of Joan Baez singing Where have all the flowers gone,” and thought about where has all the compassion gone, when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn

  3. Avatar of WH
    WH / February 8, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Anyone else make the Bain Capital Partners connection in this article?

    “Former employees say the company’s clinics are chronically understaffed, which makes it easier for take-home methadone to be abused. Former counselors say their heavy workload did not allow them to adequately counsel patients.”

    Bain Capital = Mitt Romney, and his party’s approach to Health Care in general. Bottom line dollar amounts are what these people worship. This article is exactly the kind of real-world feedback we can and should be using in our political discussions. Cutting jobs to make a CEO more money isn’t some noble “free market” pursuit with no adverse consequences. It’s a criminally selfish ideology that does enormous damage to untold numbers of people.

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