Treatment for opioid addiction often brings discrimination


FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2019, photo, Jon Combes holds his bottle of buprenorphine, a medicine that prevents withdrawal sickness in people trying to stop using opiates, as he prepares to take a dose in a clinic in Olympia, Wash. The U.S. Department of Justice made clear, Tuesday, April 2, 2022, that barring the use of medication treatment for opioid abuse is a violation of federal law.

AP Photo | Ted S. Warren, File


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Danielle Russell was in the emergency department at an Arizona hospital last fall, sick with COVID-19, when she made the mistake of answering completely when she was asked what medications she was on.

“I said yes, I was taking methadone,” said Russell, a doctoral student who also was in recovery from heroin use. “The smart thing to do, if I wanted to be treated like a human, would be to say no.”

Even though her primary doctor had sent her to the ER, she said she was discharged swiftly without being treated and given a stack of papers about the hospital’s policies for prescribing pain medications — drugs she was not asking for.


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