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‘Methadone clinic’ almost licensed

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

Licensing is almost completed for a “methadone clinic” that will be locating in Pulaski Mall.

Les Saltzberg, director of licensing for Virginia Department of Health and Developmental Services, said Friday, “It looks fairly likely they’ll be licensed within a few weeks.”

That clears the way for Pulaski Medical LLC to proceed with setting up the clinic in the mall unit formerly occupied by Pulaski Drugs and New River Valley Community Services. The company has already been advertising for employees.

Gary Gavornik of Easton, Pa. filed with VDHDS in late 2011 for a license to operate the “opioid treatment center.” The clinic will dispense medications, including methadone, to persons with addictions to opiate drugs and pain medications. The goal is to wean the person off the drugs.

The town of Pulaski and Pulaski County filed objections to the clinic with VDHDS. However, since the clinic was consistent with town zoning at the time the application was filed, officials were doubtful they would be able to stop it.

The property’s B-2 zoning allowed medical clinics as a “use by right” in December 2011. Since that time, council has amended the ordinance to require a “special exception,” thus giving the town more control over such facilities in the future.

Pulaski Mall is owned by RAS Properties, which is owned by Robert Strenz, a former member of Pulaski’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Comments

comments

43 Responses to ‘Methadone clinic’ almost licensed

  1. TheHarleyDiva

    August 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I worked several years for the Life Center of Galax and spent quite some time directly involved in the methadone clinic there. I think there is quite a bit of misinformation and misguided views posted here. The clinic had a clear security presence during operating hours and strictly prohibited loiterers. Patients are also extremely closely monitored with numerous protocols and drug screenings in place to ensure patients are indeed taking and securing their medications.

    These are not some “fast food” type drive thru’s like a CVS drug store. Instead they are held to strict rules by the VDHS and DEA and are trying to serve a critical demand to control the opiate addictions in Pulaski and surrounding areas. We should be enthusiastically supportive of them and their desire to locate in a business area (rather than a residential area), as well as the hope they will bring to the drug addicted members of our community.

    Before “assuming” crime will increase, I urge you to consider reviewing crime statistics for areas surrounding methadone clinics. I think you will be disappointed that your “crime” argument simply does not hold any validity.

  2. hannah

    August 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    hey lets give the druggies more drugs and then give them free money for food while other normal people are out here living pay check to pay check oh ha that’s right we already do that how sad makes me sick to see these drug addicts using food stamp cards buying candy bars cause their so high

  3. anon2

    August 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I agree with hannah! You are exactly right, I am a single mom and work my rear off every day to pay the bills because I can’t get assistance. However, it seems like the people that try to do the right thing and work and not do drugs can’t get any assistance. This is just crazy opening this clinic! It is going to rise the crime rate, and we will have to be the ones to suffer for your addiction problem! It is just not fair!

  4. david

    August 13, 2013 at 1:30 am

    Let’s take this into consideration…the goal is to get people off of meth or pain pills, if it works it will be wonderful for Pulaski county and the new river valley. But, and this is a big but….what is the contingency if it doesn’t. In all reality, is meth and methadone essentially the same thing? So if a addict stays an addict, the community still suffers from crime, methadone is abused, what is the back up plan? Is the facility a user facility or do they pick up and go use at home, or go around the corner and take a bump? I think what should be done, is maybe a town hall meeting, a interview by the local media, or somehow get an explication from a facilitator to the public how this facility is expected to work, and what will happen if this facility is a bust. I believe everyone can agree this is a problem in the community and something has to be done.

    • dave

      August 27, 2013 at 7:58 am

      Meth and methadone are nowhere close to the same substance. Meth is speed an amphetamine. Methadone Iis a synthetic opiate designed to ween someone off of drugs. Have nothing to do with each other. People posting here obviously have not the sli ft htest cluw of what the program is. Also methadone and food stamps are comcompletely and entirely unrelated.

  5. Concerned Citizen

    August 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    There is NO contengency plan, and it is wide known that there is going to be over 700 patience seen a day, or that is the expectation, not 200. They do become addicted to the methadone, then wean them off of it with counseling and rehabilitation, if it is set up right, but many clinics are known to increase and increase, for more money, rather than decrease, and lose a client. Watch the crime rates go through the roof. Its a proven fact….

  6. Bud

    August 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    No David, methamphetamine(an amphetamine) and methadone(an opiate) are not even remotely the same thing, nor has methadone ever been used to treat an addiction to methamphetamine. Furthermore, you are only the 101th individual on these forums to deliberately attempt to confuddle the two.

    • david

      August 17, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      Well Bud….why don’t you break down the differences and educate a poor sap as myself….

      • Jonah

        August 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

        Methadone is a synthetic opiod. Used to treat dependency, in part, because of its long-half life and its mild to non-existant euphoric effect in somone thats administered it daily.

        Whereas Methadone is a depressant, Methamphetamine is a stimulant. I’m not a pharmacist but I’d venture that it has more in common with Methylphenidate (Ritalin) than Methadone. The only medical use of Methamphetamine that I’m familiar with(I’m sure their are others) is ADHD, and thats only in rare cases.

  7. Alive today

    August 24, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I really wish these 2 drugs didnt have such similar names!!!

    Methamphetamine is crank or crystal meth. This is a combination of cold medicine and other toxic substances that you can mix up to get a speed buzz off of. You may have heard of meth labs.

    Methadone and suboxone are available to help people wean off of pain meds and heroin. I tried cold turkey. A short list of what the methadone clinic gave me in no particular order:

    1) support from the time I stepped in the door (dr, counselors and groups)
    2) forever friendships with others who had gotten themselves into the same situation and wanted out
    3) 12 step groups
    4) Beginning of my walk with God—
    5) job
    6) relationship with my parents
    7) thought control (at my rock bottom I had literally “lost my mind”)

    Ideally we would all be able to just put the pain pills down. I tried and failed (those of you who think this is weak, I am grateful you haven’t experienced this agony).
    I decided that the 2nd best alternative… getting off the streets and into the clinic was the best way for me to get clean.

  8. Free and Clean

    August 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Everyone has an opinion about this, and mine certainly isn’t the most popular. However, if people were to actually educate themselves about what these treatment centers offer, they may feel a little more accepting of a medical option that could help many residents of the NRV. I myself grew up in Pulaski County and have seen WAY too many of my friends and classmates fall victim to prescription drug overdoses and death. I won’t comment on the heroin treatment because I don’t know enough about it to make an educated statement.
    There was a time in my life where I felt as many of you do, that these “clinics” were nothing more than legal drug dealers. I thought that the people who frequented these places were nothing more than trashy junkies, and the world would be a better place without them!! Until, I became a patient of a treatment facility myself.
    My story started after a car accident that left me with a lot of back and neck pain. My doctor prescribed very strong pain killers, and as time went on, the milligrams and the quantity that I was prescribed went higher and higher. I was at a point to where I would nod off at work, or even while I was driving!! I didn’t think of myself as one of “those junkies” because MY prescription came from a doctor!! My father was in a similar situation due to a back injury he sustained at work. How many of the people who are commenting on this page take your own pain medication EVERY DAY, but you don’t have a “problem” because the doctor gives them to you? How many of you pray in church for the “trashy junkies” in town, and just happen to nod off while your eyes are closed and your head is bowed? I have SEEN you do it! Shame on you, and shame on me too, because THIS is how addiction to pain medication can begin.
    Back to my story; I started to take more and more of the medicine to get the same effects over time. I started to run out before it was time for a refill and started to feel withdraw symptoms. At that point, I started to get a few here and there from friends, and to make a LONG story a little bit shorter, my doctor caught on to the fact that I had become addicted to the pain medication that HE had started me on. He cut my prescription off completely. I was SO sick that I was unable to function, and so I got into the habit of buying these pills from the “streets”. Many people don’t know how much these things cost on the street, but I was spending well OVER $100 daily just to function. Not to feel a “buzz” but just to get up, put on my business suit and go to my high profile, respected job, where NO one could know about my addiction to pain medications. This went on for a LONG time, and I finally decided that I needed to seek help and treatment. I didn’t have 90 days to leave work, and I certainly couldn’t explain to my employer that I needed to go to rehab for substance abuse! So, I decided to meet with the doctor at the Roanoke Treatment Center, and after much research and soul searching, I decided this would be my best option.
    Now for some REAL details about how these treatment centers work. The patient is given a liquid dose that must be observed by the nurse when you drink it, and you have to speak to her before you leave to make sure you have swallowed the medication. I don’t even want to imagine why this is part of the routine, but it is. The location in Roanoke opens prior to 6am so there is no conflict with having to leave work to go in for your dose. For approximately the first year, you must go into the office on a daily basis and are given random urine test at least once a week. If there is ANYthing in your urine, your dose will be dropped to an uncomfortable level, and you will have to come in every day including Sundays. You also start all over with your days “clean”, and their trust level for you goes away as well. If a patient consistently has drugs in their system, they are eventually dropped from the program. You cannot have anything in your system including marijuana or even some over the counter medications.
    You are assigned a trained counselor and are required to meet with them several times a week in the beginning, in addition to attending group therapy sessions. Any addict who would try to go to the facility to get a “high” or “buzz” will quickly realize that there is NO buzz or high from the medication and will quickly withdrawal themselves from the program and go back to the streets for a buzz. The medication allowed me to feel “normal” with no buzz, and be able to work and have a normal life without having to go through sickness, or constantly worrying where my next pills would come from or dozing off at inappropriate times. (Like church.) One of the WORST things about having to find these pills on the “street” are the places and people that I had to come into contact with. In my normal life, these were places I would avoid at all costs, and people I would NEVER associate with! But because of my prescription drug addiction that started at my DOCTORS office, I found myself in horrible situations.
    The daily cost of the medication is MUCH less than the daily cost of street price pills. Going from over $100 per day to $13 per day was a HUGE difference. People who are worried about more crime and theft in town need to consider the cost of the medication. It’s a lot easier to find $13 a day than $200, and people are much MORE likely to steal or commit robbery to obtain hundreds a day compared to less than fifteen dollars, AND they are not having to deal with drug dealers from the streets and putting themselves in dangerous situations. Granted, I am talking about those who REALLY want help getting off of these drugs. The addicts who are looking for a high will NOT be the ones who participate in the program.
    The $13 that is paid each day includes the medication as well as a personal counselor/ therapist. I had gone through therapy prior to participating in the program, and know that a session with a licensed counselor is MUCH more than $13!! The patients are required to pay that amount even if they miss a day, which encourages them to stay on track. I also noticed that someone said the costs vary depending on the milligram the patient is on. That is not the case, at least not at the Roanoke Treatment Center. The cost is the same for each person no matter what level of medication you are on.
    I participated in the program for a little over two years, and had a goal to follow the doctor’s instructions and complete the program in a reasonable amount of time. I was on 80 milligrams daily for about a year of the time that I was in the program. I decreased my dose by 2 milligrams per week until I was completely off of the medication. I never failed any urine tests while I was there, and never had any problems. This treatment program literally saved my life! I could have EASILY been just another name in the paper who died of an overdose, as MANY of my classmates have been. I was, and still am an upstanding member of the community, and almost no one knows what I have gone through with this treatment. I would really like to be able to reveal my identity to show that normal, every day people can go through an addiction to pain medications. Unfortunately, I cannot do that at this time because of the judgmental, mean spirited, ignorant, and uneducated attitude in this community regarding this treatment option. Why are people in this area so unable to see past other people’s standards and opinions. Don’t you think that its possible that there are educated people out there who know much more about addiction than your neighbors? Just because your friend Judy or Bob tells you what THEY have heard doesn’t make it true! Take some time and do some REAL research people! Yes, it takes time and effort, but if you want to know what really goes on in a treatment facility like the one that is coming to Pulaski, then do your due diligence and educate yourselves! THEN make a comment on one of these pages; an informed and educated comment. You might be surprised what you learn.
    It really is a shame that people have to go through addictions that can start in our local doctor’s offices, and that Pulaski even needs this kind of facility! However, the problem IS here, and we need to face the real problem head on and deal with the community’s dependance on pain medication. I hope that this facility will be a great thing for the community and HELP people of ALL ages to get off of these pain medications! If done properly, this can save SO many lives and possibly even help this struggling town to get past a lot of its underlying issues and bring in a new profitable and productive generation to a great town that I’m proud to call my hometown!!
    Please remember, just because your doctor prescribes this medication to you, doesn’t make you, or your ADDICTION any different than the patients who seek help at this new treatment facility! If your doctor decides to cut you off, you may find yourself standing in line with the same people that you once called “junkies” waiting on YOUR dose. Good luck to those who want to quit and change/ save their lives!!

  9. Grateful

    August 27, 2013 at 6:11 am

    If diabetics could only get insulin at a clinic would you put them down and want them out of sight? Addiction is a disease. It is a fact. It is deadly. It can happen to ANYONE regardless of upbringing, net worth, education, career, values, spiritual maturity etc etc…

    Thankfully, methadone/suboxone is available for those struggling with opiate addicition. In my case I was able to also kick other drug addictions as well because though pain pills were my main issue, my lifestyle and loss of self esteem from the disease led me to use use anything to numb the shame, self hate, pain and loss of everything I had prior to active addiction. Using – after a certain low was reached – was the only way to show myself love because it gave me a respite from the pain. The clinic got me back on track and I am forever grateful.

    • cathy

      August 27, 2013 at 9:46 am

      I wonder why small towns seem to have the worst problems? BTW, what we now consider a disease is really a consequence of our actions.

  10. hindsight is 20/20

    August 27, 2013 at 11:05 am

    As a recovering addict (four years clean), I must share that I am too familiar with the methadone clinic process. I won’t bore anyone with my story or how I got in the shape I was in, I will try to get straight to the point. I went to the Galax Life Center for help with my addiction. I could not seem to kick the habit on my own. Had I of known then what I know now, I would’ve never stepped foot thru those doors. The facilitators convinced me to commit to the ‘Methadone Maintenance’ plan and dose daily rather than a 28 day program. I ended up giving them thousands of dollars and over seven years of my life. This not only affected me, but my children, family and community. I could not even schedule a vacation or trip for work without having to plan on how I was going to get my daily dose. It still has control of your life just as the drugs did only you are ‘legally’ getting them. However, you can still can your medication adjusted and ‘catch’ a buzz and some of the people that attend are willing to sell their ‘take-homes’ to help pay for their visits. So you see, this is still a vicious cycle of an unhealthy lifestyle. You still will do anything to get your dose… And I have always wondered WHY we were allowed to drive and put OTHERS LIVES at risk while dosing???

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