Recently, the Keene Sentinel published a four-part investigative series on Keene’s methadone clinic, Keene Metro Treatment Center. According to the Sentinel article, the Center serves approximately 220 clients who live in Keene or surrounding towns. It opened in 2006 is staffed by a program director, a medical director, two nurses and three to four counselors.
Methadone treatment for heroin addiction experienced a dramatic increase after World War II in this country. According to Narconon, “After World War II, the number of heroin addicts in large American cities grew rapidly. Between 1950 and 1961, the death rate of those who were injecting heroin increased drastically. From 7.2 deaths per 10,000, the number grew to 35.8 deaths per 10,000. In New York City, the average age of death of a heroin injector was 29.
By the mid-1960s in New York City, the rapid spread of disease from one addict to another called for a drastic solution. Researchers at the Rockefeller Foundation developed a system of dosing heroin addicts with methadone to prevent their use of heroin. It was proposed to the administrators of New York City, where approximately half the country’s addicts lived, that methadone programs be established to treat these addicts and get them off the illicit drug. These addicts, once under treatment, were able to stop committing crimes to get the funds to buy more heroin. Since methadone was administered as a liquid dose or a diskette, there was no chance for the transmission of disease. From that beginning, methadone treatment for heroin addiction spread across the United States and to other countries. By 1998, there were 44,000 methadone patients in New York State alone and 79,000 nationwide.” Rural areas of the United States have experienced an alarming rise in the abuse of illegal drugs such as heroin, oxycontin, and oxycodone. Unfortunately, New Hampshire did not escape this plight.
According to the Keene Sentinel, “The Monadnock Region has seen a spike in opiate use in recent years. Out of the N.H. Attorney General’s Drug Task force teams, the one covering western counties including Cheshire, Sullivan and parts of Hillsborough is the most active, according to Keene Police Chief Kenneth J. Meola. Approximately 95 percent of the cases the western division investigates are opiate-related, Meola said.”Understaffed, Long Hours, Little Oversight” One of the former counselors, Christopher Rossey, interviewed for the Sentinel series worked for the Keene Metro Treatment Center for four years before leaving in December 2012. During the interview, Rossey noted the long hours, the heavy patient load, frequent staff turnover, as well as little patient oversight. “I would show up at 5 a.m. and aside from maybe 30 minutes in the afternoon, your feet are on the pavement; you’re always moving, always talking to somebody,” he said.
And with so many patients to see, Rossey said he had to work hard to keep up with the load. “It was hard; it was a stretch,” he said. According to the Sentinel report, “According to Swanzey Planning Board documents from that year, Colonial Management Group (which runs the Keene Metro Treatment Center) officials said there would be a staff-to-client ratio of 1 to 40, and said there would be about four clients in the building at any given time. We will be posting more in the near future on this Sentinel investigative series.
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