EEN INTERLANDIJENEEN INTERLANDIEN INTERLANDI
By Jeneen Interlandi Photographs by Damon Winter
Ms. Interlandi is a member of the editorial board. Mr. Winter is a staff photographer on assignment in Opinion Dec. 13, 2023 NY Times
Humanize Drug Users
Raina Mcmahan, a 42-year-old recovery coach, spent roughly half her life seeking treatment for her own opioid use disorder.
She tried detoxing multiple times at different inpatient facilities, but those programs usually discharged her after a week or two without any follow-up care.
She paid one doctor $500 to treat her with buprenorphine, a medication that helps reduce opioid cravings, but he administered that medication improperly. When she got sick, he told her she was allergic — a falsehood she believed for years.
She tried methadone, another medication used to treat opioid addiction, but the hurdles proved insurmountable. The only clinic that had space for her was two hours away by subway, required her to report in person every day and stopped serving patients at 10 a.m. sharp. “If you got there at 10:01, they would shut the window in your face,” she told me recently. When that happened, she would have to either go without medication for the day and wind up in withdrawal or use street drugs and risk a positive urine test (which could get her expelled from the program) or an accidental overdose (which could kill her).
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