CHARLESTOWN — Daily visits to a clinic to legally secure the drug that keeps life relatively normal is routine for many people addicted to opioids. It takes a toll, driving an hour and sometimes two each way for those milligrams of methadone.
Lindsey Vissing, clinical director at the Southern Indiana Comprehensive Treatment Center in Clark County, knows this firsthand. Sees it every day. In a nation where opioid abuse and overdoses stagger communities, she oversees a clinic that distributes prescribed medication to help clients stay sober and alive.
She understands that many people shun addicts and see methadone as substituting one opioid for another. But Vissing continues explaining to people that a dose of methadone and similar drugs blocks cravings for more but does not induce a high.
“We are in the midst of an opioid crisis, and this is evidence-based treatment that works for many people,” she said as a busy Friday morning at the clinic, which opens its doors at 4:30 a.m., wound down. The clinic closes at noon. The doors get locked and the busy parking lot soon clears.
Vissing said that between 400 and 700 patients come to the clinic daily for methadone, Suboxone and counseling. “People need to know that we are highly regulated. It’s a huge inconvenience for our patients to come here, since access to treatment is limited.”
So much so that state health officials last summer, recognizing a void in service locations, targeted Bloomington for a methadone clinic set to open at the end of June. Limestone Health clinic will serve between 500 and 1,000 clients every day in a 9,000-square-foot facility being renovated at 2100 S. Liberty Drive, not far from Walmart.
The new clinic will alleviate travel time for area addicts who depend on methadone to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.
The state tapped Louisville-based Springstone Inc. to establish two methadone clinics in Indiana, one in Lafayette and the other in Bloomington. The state also called for increased addiction treatment services in Johnson, Vigo and Allen counties.
Tennessee’s Acadia Healthcare operates the five methadone clinics in Indiana, including the one near Charlestown, currently distributing the drug that helps opioid addicts staving off cravings. Clinics are open by 5 a.m. and often closed by early afternoon.