FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Interior AIDS Association is seeking state and federal approval to open a methadone clinic at its downtown office.
The clinic would treat the 10 heroin addicts who have asked for treatment, said IAA Executive Director Bonnie McCorquodale.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough has 300 to 400 opiate addicts, according to the proposal IAA forwarded to the borough when it asked for a $27,550 grant for the clinic earlier this year. The borough awarded the money, which would be used in combination with state and federal grants and client fees to pay the cost of running the clinic.
Methadone, a synthetic narcotic stronger than morphine, works by warding off heroin withdrawal symptoms and blocking the euphoric feelings heroin and other opiates convey. Methadone's withdrawal symptoms are milder than those of opiates.
A methadone patient can learn to live without heroin by taking methadone in progressively shorter doses. The treatments can last 10 years or longer but are usually less than that, according to the IAA proposal.
IAA hopes to open the clinic in September, McCorquodale said. The program, dubbed Project Special Delivery, would be operated by a nurse and physician under the auspices of IAA.
IAA's interest in the clinic, besides helping addicts, is HIV infection reduction. About 12 percent of HIV infections in Alaska can be blamed on bad needles used by intravenous drug users, according to a December bulletin from the state Division of Public Health.
Services at the proposed clinic will include medical evaluation, detoxification, methadone treatment, counseling and skills training. A core group of 10 heroin addicts has been meeting weekly for most of the year to help develop the program.
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