A look inside opioid addiction and how to address it

Larry Harrison takes his daily dose of methadone at the ARTS clinic in Aurora, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Cyrus McCrimmon.

Larry Harrison takes his daily dose of methadone on Dec. 9 at the ARTS clinic in Aurora, Colorado. Photo courtesy Cyrus McCrimmon.

What looked to be a routine story about a grassroots UCHealth effort to move patients hospitalized for infections, hepatitis C, and other maladies associated with opioid addiction into long-term treatment (rather than back onto the streets) turned into something else entirely after I met Larry Harrison. Larry was hooked on heroin for than a decade; a methadone program has changed his life — to his and society’s benefit.


The central act of Larry Harrison’s day is to tip back a couple of ounces of liquid that tastes like pink cough syrup. On this day in early December, he has ridden a half hour in a white Helping Hands minivan from an apartment halfway across town to do so. He did the same thing yesterday; he will do it again tomorrow.

The pink liquid contains a precise dose of methadone – in Harrison’s case, 130 milligrams of it. Methadone binds to the same brain receptors as opioids such as heroin, cutting cravings and quelling withdrawal symptoms that, in Harrison’s case, “get so bad I wish I was dead.”

[read more at UCHealth Today]

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