BALTIMORE, Md. — A record number of Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses last year, and many of those deaths were tied to the opioid epidemic. Because of that addiction, experts are now pushing for new mobile methadone clinics as a way to help reach those struggling with addiction.
That includes people like Annies Bailey-Jackson, Adam Winepole, and John Torsch.
"These drugs are killing us," Annies Bailey-Jackson said.
"I’ve been exposed to a lot of death and hardship," John Torsch added.
"It’s killing people there are so many people dying from it," Adam Winepole added.
The three recovering addicts sat down to share their stories at what is the largest yearly gathering of policymakers and advocates trying to end the opioid epidemic. It took place in early November in Baltimore, Maryland.
"You have to explain to people, show how easy it is to get in trouble with opioids," said Mark Parrino, who serves as the president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence.
Parrino is pushing policymakers like those with Health and Humans Services to get more nationwide approval and funding for mobile methadone clinics. Methadone is a medication used to help people reduce or quit their use of heroin or other drugs. Currently, there’s only one such clinic in existence in Rhode Island.
"You have to demystify the treatment for this disorder," Parrino said.
This type of innovative methadone treatment couldn't come at a more critical American juncture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 107,000 people died of drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021. An estimated 75% of those deaths involved an opioid but only 18% of people with an opioid use disorder received medication as treatment.
For those who have used methadone to recover from addiction, removing the stigma of a brick-and-mortar clinic is seen as lowering a major barrier to recovery.