One opioid addiction clinic, the Carolina Treatment Center, worked beyond its means to provide care for the stranded and desperate coming in from far and wide.
The clinic would have been in dire straits if the nurses working there—most of them severely and personally affected by the hurricane—had not been able to show up.
The clinic’s head nurse Kristen Morales worked 16 days in a row while living at a nearby hotel to ensure she could show up for her job. Huffington Postinterviewed the treatment center director, Louis Leake, as he worked cases from as far off as Louisiana.
“We can do a lot of things, but we can’t do a lot of things without nurses,” Leake said. “Some of those nurses were without power, they sustained damage to their homes, but they showed up every day.”
Past studies have shown the toll that intense storms take on the community of addiction recovery. One study published in Substance Use Misuse, on Hurricane Sandy, concluded that among other troubling findings (such as the increase of shared use of needles) 70% of those in opioid maintenance therapy could not obtain sufficient doses to remain off of opioids.
The town of Fayetteville’s clinic was closed for a mandatory three-day evacuation. Patients were given between three and six days of treatment medication to take home, after which they had to be resupplied.
The Carolina Treatment Center was outside of the evacuation zone and took in all of Fayetteville’s addiction treatment patients, to treat a total of more than 900 patients.
Despite the four days of medication that patients could take home, between the three-day evacuation and road closures and flooding, many patients would have had to suffer through withdrawal or relapse if the Carolina Treatment Center had not gone above and beyond to provide a safety net for this vulnerable community.
Patient Teri Cooper told The Huffington Post, “It was busy, but thank God I could come here. I guess I would have got some damn drugs, to be honest. [if the clinic were closed] If I didn’t feel good. That’s the truth.”