7/26/2012, Meet The Drug Dealer Who Helps Addicts Quit

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/26/155424108/meet-the-drug-dealer-who-helps-addicts-quit

A prescription drug called Suboxone helps wean people off of heroin and pain pills, but addicts have a hard time getting prescriptions. So they’re turning to the black market.

An Albuquerque man who goes by the name Mystery Man has stepped in to fill the void. He says he illegally sells Suboxone every day. To get Suboxone, Mystery Man has to find a patient with a Suboxone prescription, and give that person the $50 co-pay to fill it. He gets that money by selling, among other things, crack and guns…

“People who are treated with Suboxone are able to go back to school, they’re able to go back to work, they’re able to start paying taxes and taking care of their children,” says Dr. Miriam Komaromy, who directs a state-funded addiction treatment hospital in New Mexico. “It’s making them able to return to being a functioning member of society.”

The Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, College Park recently warned of an emerging buprenorphine misuse. But a survey of physicians who are certified to prescribe Suboxone underscores Mystery Man’s role. The majority believe patients who seek Suboxone on the street are doing so to self-medicate.

Doctors who treat addiction are worried that Suboxone will gain a reputation as a street drug. But for now, the street is the only marketplace keeping up with demand.

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