They were opioid addicts on their way to recovery. Then the hurricane hit.

Methadone is a long-acting prescription opioid primarily used as a replacement therapy for opioid addiction. Patients are prescribed controlled doses of the drug to help them recover from heroin or painkiller addiction. There are an estimated 360,000 methadone patients in the United States and approximately 1.4 million worldwide, according to the addictive diseases laboratory at Rockefeller University.

When a natural disaster hits, these strict standards often become impossible to maintain amid the chaos. With so many people in acute danger, methadone quickly becomes deprioritized. Though state authorities sometimes allow for shelters and hospitals to dispense doses, or for clinics to allow patients to take the drug home, protocols vary from location to location.


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