Getting ‘Clean’

No wonder we are not making any headway in the war against drug abuse. The pushers are more organized than efforts to wean addicts away from their deadly wares.

It is appropriate that Ohio’s Medicaid program helps drug addicts who want to kick their habits. But while the addict may be getting help, that help is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars needlessly.

An investigation of Medicaid drug addiction programs found that it can cost taxpayers hundreds of dollars a day not to treat an addict – but merely to transport him to a clinic.

It seems methadone, a key drug used to treat heroin addiction, is available in only 12 clinics in Ohio. All are in urban areas.

So, when Medicaid is used to help an addict get “clean,” he has to be transported to one of those clinics – sometimes daily. The cost can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for rural counties. One addict in Vinton County reportedly had to be transported by cab to a methadone clinic in Columbus, at a round-trip cost of more than $400.

This is crazy.

Addicts and their families already were aware of the difficulty in finding drug addiction clinics. State officials need to look into common-sense steps, such as carefully controlled availability of methadone in community hospitals, to make it easier and cheaper to win the war against drug abuse.