Gagflex: Fear and Loathing for $90 a Week

Remember when you were a kid and teachers and counselors would warn you about the evil drug dealers? Drug dealers, they would say, give the first taste for free just to get you hooked. And once you’re hooked you have no choice but to keep coming back for more.

Now that you’re at least half an adult you know that the game doesn’t work like that, not to say that they were all wrong. The medium for drug sales that acts like that isn’t some street corner mogul or some meth lab shift manager, it’s the faux healers?the methadone clinics. ##ML:[read more]##

There’s a scene in the movie Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor’s character is suffering from a forced withdrawal from heroin, and he’s begging his mother to take him to the clinic. She simply says “No clinics, no methadone.”

Methadone is as much a cure for drug addiction as Nicorette is for smoking. It’s a pain inhibitor that prolongs the inevitable fact that you’ll eventually have to face the pain and craving at some point in time. You become a legal junkie with a bit more stability.

For the most part, methadone clinics aren’t set up to keep you drug free. They’re there to keep you on methadone as long as you want because it’s a business. A friend of mine has been going to the Middle Tennessee Treatment Center of Nashville for nearly four years and paying $90 a week for the trouble. And if you stop paying, they stop “treating.” And if they stop treating, you’ll start feeling sick within two days.

What’s the incentive to cure drug addicts when you’re a privately owned business that’s making a killing off of dependency? My friend knows other people who’ve been going to clinics for over 10 years. Imagine spending 10 years working with a supposed treatment facility and the only results you had to show were 10 years of persistent methadone use and a bank account that’s about $47,000 lighter.

I am told that these clinics have counselors as useful as the same guidance counselor who couldn’t relate to the 16-year-old kids in high school. They give you the grand warnings of coming off methadone before you should. You could wind up back on whatever drug you were hooked on to begin with, and of course your heart could stop and at that point you would no longer have to worry about methadone. So if you can’t afford to keep up with clinic payments you get subjected to a forced detox and the amount of methadone that you take is dropped rapidly. You get the chills, can’t sleep, have diarrhea, severe headaches, muscle aches, and panic attacks that are propped up by all the fears that your counselor has advised you of.

These clinics, or businesses, are as ethical as your common crack house. If you have money they’ll dose you; if you don’t then hit the streets. There’s no obligation towards you. The only real difference is that a crack dealer doesn’t mix words about what he’s offering. The methadone business advertises a solution to drug addiction, but in reality the only thing it has to offer is a more socially acceptable drug addict.


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