California (and Alameda County) are at the forefront of the nation in working towards low-barrier buprenorphine treatment, which means prescribing Suboxone to those struggling with opioid addiction when they’re ready. So if you’re struggling with opioid addiction, ready for help, and live in Alameda County, you’re better off than much of the nation, no matter how bad you feel right now.
I gave birth to the older of my two daughters while taking methadone to treat addiction to heroin. By the time I had my second daughter, I had switched to buprenorphine. I'm in a unique position to speak about my experiences with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and pregnancy due to my experiences with the two dominant medications used by pregnant women in recovery.
This summer, San Francisco is on track to open two supervised injection sites that will serve around 22,000 people in the Bay Area. These sites were unanimously voted for by the local Health Commission, whose ultimate goal is to equip these facilities with clean needles, medical staff trained in responding to overdose or other medical emergencies, and resources for people who want treatment: all in order to help end the opioid epidemic.
I caught up with Tracey Helton Mitchell, recovering heroin addict and author of The Big Fix: Hope After Heroin, to talk about her work in harm reduction, her book, and how she stays sober today.