Colorado methadone clinics have doubled in 3 years |

Colorado methadone clinics have doubled in 3 years

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2015 file photo, Chief of Police Thomas Synan Jr., of the Newtown Police Department, speaks to the media at the scene of a traffic stop arrest in Newtown, Ohio. As President Donald Trump heads to Ohio to focus on the new tax overhaul, some would like to hear more about his plans to fight drug overdoses. Synan Jr says he found Trump’s comments on opioids in his State of the Union address to be more strong words without strong actions. But a police union leader says he believes Trump was spot-on about the scope of the problem.(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

DENVER — They arrive before the sun, lining up for a lifeline that comes in a shot of pink liquid.

The doors to the methadone clinic on the campus of Denver Health open before dawn, and the line stretches down one side of the clinic hallway and back up the other. One at a time, patients swig a cup of methadone passed through an opening from the other side of a protective window.

The liquid opioid quenches the craving to shoot heroin and staves off a withdrawal that brings on vomiting, sweating, muscle aches and uncontrollable shaking in what some describe as the worst flu ever.

Denver Health’s narcotic treatment program now has 550 patients, double what it had three years ago. But the medical center estimates it could serve four times as many people, more than 3,000, if it had the staff and other resources to take everyone addicted to opioids who walked in from the streets, visited the main hospital or was booked in the Denver jail.

It’s a similar story across Colorado, where access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction has expanded rapidly in the past few years but isn’t yet close to getting a grip on the need, The Denver Post reported . Throughout the country, the epidemic has overwhelmed resources.

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