Anchorage's only methadone clinic, facing an influx of patients and not enough funding to treat them, has stopped accepting into treatment all new patients, including pregnant women.
The downtown Narcotic Drug Treatment Center has been plagued with waiting lists for years, and until last week was accepting pregnant women on a priority basis. It now has 87 patients on its active roster but is only funded for 85, said clinical director Ron Greene. There are 12 more people on a wait list to get in, he said.
As of Sept. 24, the clinic was above its capacity. Greene said the center will continue to admit patients onto the wait list and offer some services but will not enroll anyone in treatment until others leave.
Part of the problem is a surge in heroin available in Southcentral Alaska, Greene said.
"It's in such abundance, and it's so cheap out there that everything else is secondary," Greene said. "We don't even have a close second running drug of choice on this program. Right now, it is heroin and has been for the past three years."
Sgt. Kathy Lacey, supervisor of the vice unit said in the past year police have arrested more than 60 heroin dealers, many of them young, white men. The drug's use is booming for any number of reasons, but a big contributor is the fact that it's cheap, available and highly addictive, she said. It's now a priority target for the vice unit, she said.
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