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She relayed a few success stories—a new baby here, a relapse averted there—but even years after they’ve found sobriety, her charges’ lives are still precariously balanced.What Tom (not his real name) was attempting to work his way back up from was the weekly “beginner” group, where advanced patients are sent if they relapse and cannot stay clean.A woman who lives more than two hours away wasn’t going to make it in—the Medicaid van that normally brings her fell through this week. There’s some lighthearted banter between updates—one patient, apparently trying to curry favor with Lander, repeatedly called her “sweetie” over the phone.When the final chart is read, the group breaks, and the therapists head into their separate sessions.
Over the years, Sullivan has tried giving patients methadone, buprenorphine, and now naltrexone.They’re also required to attend four 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings each week in their home communities.The clinic tries to strike at “all parts of their addiction,” Sullivan explains.In this article, these patients are identified by pseudonymous first names only.)There’s a waiting list to get into the center’s program, and the only applicants prioritized are pregnant women.Sullivan isn’t above telling the sons of local tycoons to get in line.
Now, the state’s few addiction treatment specialists—Sullivan is one—are drowning under their caseloads.