Laura Lane and Abby Tonsing, Herald-Times
ELLETTSVILLE — Sandwiched between a BMV license branch and a low-income veterinary clinic in the Richland Plaza strip mall is a business that provides opioid addicts access to a legal drug that diminishes the cravings that keep them from staying clean.
A teal-green sign with lowercase letters is over the storefront housing Groups Recover Together, a for-profit clinic that distributes a prescription medication mix of buprenorphine and naloxone. Known by its trade name, Suboxone, the drug relieves the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Proponents say it lessens the often debilitating effects of cold-turkey withdrawal from heroin and other opioids. Detox advocates argue that Suboxone is merely a replacement drug, and that treating addiction in that way merely substitutes one opioid for another.
Certified by the the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Groups locations throughout Indiana appear on a new addictions treatment website administered by the FSSA.
Groups’ mission: accessible and affordable care in a Suboxone-based program for opioid addicts centered not in large cities, but scattered across rural America. Groups Recover Together keeps its clinics’ overhead and operating costs low. Clients pay $65 via money order or debit card per visit, plus the cost of the Suboxone if insurance does not cover it.
A weekly visit to the clinic for a urine drug test, an hour of group therapy and a prescription for a week’s worth of Suboxone — 112 milligrams — allows people like Bloomington’s Angie Deckard to live a pretty normal life.
To stave off her addiction to OxyContin and the side effects of withdrawal, Deckard has been on either methadone, Suboxone or Subutex — a form of buprenorphine considered safer for pregnant women — since 2008.
She said Groups — that’s what everyone calls the program, where she has been a client since July — helps make daily living manageable. She spends one hour at the Ellettsville office once a week to obtain a prescription for a week’s supply of Suboxone.