A new methadone clinic is in town to help treat those who have addictions to opiate drugs.
Premier Care of Illinois at 923 N. Vermilion St. offers a methadone maintenance program to help those addicted to opiate drugs (many prescription painkillers and heroin) to wean off their addiction and eventually become drug-free.
Program director Robert Haley, a licensed chemical dependency counselor III and licensed social worker, said the vast majority of clients coming through the center are addicted to painkillers, not heroin.
“The biggest trend is OxyContin,” Haley said. “They’re not really crack addicts anymore. They’re opiate addicts.”
Some recognizable opiate brand name drug names are Vicodin, Dilaudid, Darvocet, Norco, Opium, Ultram, Morphine, Fentanyl, codeine, Percocet, Percodan and OxyContin, to name a few.
Clients pay $12 a day, or $78 a week in advance to be a part of the program where they visit the site daily to take methadone medication that helps them to stay off drugs.
Haley said the methadone medication eliminates their withdraw symptoms, which can seem like flu symptoms times 10. The methadone also takes away drug cravings and creates a blockage to opiates, which means if a client still tries to go out and use an opiate drug, they wouldn’t get a high or benefit from the drug use.
Haley said the majority of drug users he sees aren’t doing it for a thrill.
“Overall, they don’t continue the drug use to get high, it’s to stay well, to function,” Haley said.
The program director will be tapping social service agencies, the courts and hospitals to find those in need that might benefit from the services. Premier Care also does drug detoxification for those who want to come down off drugs in a 30-day period, but Haley said clients rarely request it.
He noted that there are some who disagree with a medication assisted form of treatment for drug addiction and said he respects that opinion, but has seen significant successes through the program, which is medically supervised and works with clients to modify their drug-seeking behaviors.
Helping clients to modify those behaviors is Dona Farnsworth, licensed clinical professional counselor. Clients meet with her at least daily for the first week of the program until they are stabilized, and then usually weekly after that, depending on the individual client needs. She uses the cognitive behavioral therapy form of counseling with clients.
“By changing how you think, you change how you behave,” Farnsworth said.
Anonymity is of the utmost importance at the clinic, with names never being called out. Farnsworth said client profiles range, but all are normal people.
“You might see someone walking down the street and have no idea (that they were addicted to opiates),” Farnsworth said.
Counseling is mandatory in the program, to be done in conjunction with the methadone dosing.
Farnsworth said her goal is to help people to stabilize and to get their lives back.
Other particulars of the program include clients taking a blood test at the onset of admission, which tests them for opiate addiction, hepatitis, tuberculosis and some sexually transmitted diseases. Clients come in for a daily dose, but as they progress through the program, can reduce their trips into the center to twice a month.
Haley said there is a wide range of time for a client to spend in this type of program — anywhere from six months to two decades.
He said that Premier Care’s focus on working with the individual to address their triggers, high-risk trigger situations, and behavior modification is an advantageous way of going about it.
“We work with them on being proactive in their life,” Haley said.
Generally, the population who the clinic has measured success, can be seen in ways such as increased employment rates, drops in incarcerations, and better quality of life (such as being able to better take care of their children).
Five people are employed at the facility. The closest methadone clinic to this one is in Decatur.
“We offer a great deal of re-direction here,” Haley said.
Premier Care of Illinois is open 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday and 6-10 a.m. Saturday at 923 N. Vermilion St. For more information, call 443-0101.