Long Distance Addiction of Drug Addicts

Aaron McGrady first got hooked on prescription opioids several years ago after several people close to him passed away. The 31-year-old former Seattleite has been suffering from an opioid use disorder for roughly two years.

“A lot of bad things happened in a short amount of time. A lot of people died. I just kind of said, ‘Fuck it.’ ” he told Seattle Weekly. “Prescription [pills] started it, and then it just escalated from there.”

Now, after bouncing between various local drug treatment service providers, McGrady is on medication-assisted treatment (MAT)—the current gold standard in the medical world for treating opioid addiction. MAT drugs such as buprenorphine and suboxone are designed to act as substitutes for opioids to stave off cravings and withdrawal systems without any intense euphoric effects, allowing patients to get out of the cycle of addiction, stabilize their daily lives, improve their personal health, and hold down daily responsibilities like jobs.

“For opioid use disorder, the most effective supports that we know of are medications,” said Caleb Banta-Green, a principal research scientist at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, during a May 9 press conference about regional drug overdose statistics. “A person is still physically dependent, but they are out of the chaos of addiction and that person can be in recovery.” According to both Banta-Green and King County Public Health officials, MAT medication can cut the chances of a patient suffering from opioid addiction dying from an overdose by 50 percent.

“It’s given me a way out,” McGrady said of his suboxone medication, which he’s been using for roughly a year from Valley Cities Behavioral Healthcare clinics in southeast Seattle