Saturday, August 23, 2003

Expanded methadone treatment considered

Ohio agency looks at clinics' wait list

By Jim Hannah
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The state is reviewing reports of waiting lists of heroin addicts at methadone clinics to determine whether to expand treatment, an official said Friday.

"One of the options may be the possibility of expansion," said Stacey Frohnapfel Hasson, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. "We're uncomfortable with these super-long waiting lists we're hearing about."

Hasson said the agency has sent teams to the state's nine methadone clinics to evaluate the need. She said the visits will be completed by Sept. 3 and the results discussed with Gary Tester, who was appointed agency director last month.

Taken daily, methadone chemically blocks an addict's cravings for heroin, morphine and other opiates.

In Columbus, there is a two-year waiting list for methadone treatment. The Columbus Dispatch reported last month that some addicts have resorted to paying $50 for a dose on the street - medication a clinic can dispense for about $8 a day.

Hasson said that if a decision is made to expand the amount of methadone made available, it would involve a reallocation of the agency's funds - not increased funding.

"We have a finite amount of funds," she said.

Harvey Siegal, director of the Center for Interventions, Treatment and Addictions Research at Wright State University's School of Medicine, said Friday that he favors expansion of methadone treatment.

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