Opiod treatment program helping addicts get clean and sober

SPOKANE, Wash. - Opiod treatment program vo

With four pharmacy robberies in four days, police are saying in many cases someone addicted to drugs like oxycodone loses their supplier, often to a drug bust, and takes it on themselves to feed their habit. So where can people go if they are addicted to pain pills and want to get clean and sober?

The Spokane Health District has a program that works with people addicted to opioids like heroin and oxycodone. It treats addicts by giving them doses of methadone. One of those individuals is Doug.

"I was getting out of control and I was going to die," Doug said, describing his dangerous and potentially deadly addiction to prescription drugs.

"I would take probably 200 to 300 milligrams of oxycodone a day, easy," he added.

Shortly after getting out of the Air Force, Doug was injured and started using pills to treat the pain. But soon he became addicted to oxycodone, and his life spiraled out of control.

"I let it go ... I just kept going with it and it got worse and worse," he said.

Doug remembers his lowest point, the day he stole money intended for his unborn child.

"I took the money and I went and bought pills from it, I stole from my daughter and unborn child," Doug said.

That's when Doug, who had used pills for five years, decided it was time to change. In August 2012 he found the opioid treatment program through the health district.

"When people are stabilized they aren't high or sedated like other opioids so they can function normally," Dr. Joel McCullough with the Spokane Health District said.

The methadone medication is just one part of the program. Counselors also work with the patients to get their life back on track.

"I feel like they are actually caring for you as a person, seeing how your methadone doses are they want to get you stable," Doug said. "This program has provided structure and stability in my life, helped me to be a responsible dad and provider."

Doug said he's turned his life around; he has a stable job and is able to provide for his young daughter, but more importantly, he's showing her you can hit rock bottom and still land on your feet.

"Life is good. It's back on track," he said.

Currently 440 people are in the program. After patients are in the program for six months to a year their emergency room visits drop from 80-percent to just 9-percent. Meanwhile, the patients' illicit drug use declines from 100-percent to 20-percent.