Drug War

New Mexicans Beating Heroin Addiction With Help of Drug Dealer


Attempting to kick your heroin addiction? Albuquerque's own "Mystery Man" can help. According to NPR, he's "the drug dealer who helps addicts quit."

As the state with the highest level of overall drug overdoses, New Mexico has its fair share of substance abuse woes. Yet addicts trying to ditch habits may have a hard time getting medical treatment they need. According to NPR's Planet Money, drug users are having a hard time getting ahold of Suboxone, a prescription drug that helps heroin and pain pill addicts quit (less than 30 Albuquerque physicians are trained and certified to prescribe the drug, reports the ABQ Journal). So addicts are once again hitting up the black market—only this time, in search for a treatment. And that's where the so-called Mystery Man comes in. NPR reports:

To get Suboxone, Mystery Man has to find a patient with a Suboxone prescription, and give that person the $50 co-pay to fill it. He gets that money by selling, among other things, crack and guns. He sells each pill for $5.

He says he notices a difference in his customers. "People don't overdose no more. They're just mellow," he says. "If you take it you won't be stealing, you won't be robbing, and you won't be prostituting."

But why do New Mexican addicts have to call on rehabilitation vigilantes rather than docs to get Suboxone? NPR explains:

Some physicians do prescribe Suboxone to treat addicts. But many do not.

"A lot of physicians are very resistant to prescribing Suboxone because they fear it will attract opiate addicts to their practices which brings with it a whole can of worms in terms of managing those clients," says Seth Williams, a nurse practitioner who treats the homeless in Albuquerque.

Scientists have long searched for a prescription to treat addiction. But companies were hesitant to develop one. Charles O'Keeffe is the former president and CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, the company that developed Suboxone. "There's not much money to be made in it," says O'Keeffe. "This is not a disease space that a lot of people want to treat."

Full article here.

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  1. A lot of physicians are very resistant to prescribing Suboxone because they fear it will attract opiate addicts to their practices which brings with it a whole can of worms in terms of managing those clients

    The damn addicts are the least of their worries. Its the DEA docs are really afraid of.

    1. I have noticed that doctors are much more hesitant to give opiates now than they used to be. It used to be they would give a prescription out pretty easy if you asked. Now, it is mostly take a motrin and suck it up.

      I would imagine that is the DEA causing that.

      1. I’ve went to the ER not too long ago with a very painful condition. They did give me a shot of morphine, but the look of relief on the nurses face was obvious when I refused a second. The doctor then prescribed me Vicodin, since they determined I wasn’t drug seeking.

    2. Yeah, the feds are the worms they didn’t want to deal with.

      1. The feds have a duty to ensure that addicts get their drugs from South American drug gangs than the odd Dr. Feelgood doctor.

  2. Oh wow man, OK that makes a ll kinds of sense dude.


    1. No, Tig, it doesn’t. It really doesn’t.

  3. It seems to me that a President could effectively legalize drugs by telling the EPA to stop going after doctors. It wouldn’t take but a few doctors who just didn’t care and would hand out scripts to anyone to pretty much end the need for street drug dealers, at least in opiates. Do that and stop enforcing the pot laws and you get pretty close to legalization.

      1. DEA. I am losing track of my acronyms.

    1. The DEA controls the supply. If docs wrote that many ‘scripts the supply would quickly be exhausted

      1. You could fix that by EO as well. You just set the supply higher.

      2. The DEA also polices the prescription and provision of pain meds. Physicians actually have to be licensed by them to write the script.

        1. Again, policies can be changed without Congress.

          1. Set all drugs as schedule 5.

            1. Set the supply of opiates really high and tell the DEA that a prescription is considered per say valid. Just stop going after doctors for any reason.

            2. Abrogate the Single Convention treaty.

        2. So an MD has to go to a pig who probably hasn’t even taken organic chemistry to write a script?

  4. This story really sounds like a Mike Barnicle special to me.

    1. Except that it is true. So Barnicle would not be interested.

      1. I’m saying I don’t think it’s true and that Mystery Man is the equivalent of Tom Friedman’s taxi driver or Mike Barnicle’s talkative homeless guy.

        1. Ah. My mistake for not getting the joke.

  5. Further reading indicates the black-market in this shit is sparked by people who don’t wish to be branded as drug addicts and/or want to save the expense of getting it from a physician.

  6. Up until the late ’40s (IIRC) any pharmacist could dispense any drug he had in stock.

  7. It’s a highly effective non-opiod treatment for chronic pain as well. I wonder what part of the black market is people looking to relieve chronic pain after they’ve been cut off from adequate opiod meds, but don’t want to look like an addict.

    Pain management and medical privacy are both a complete joke in this country, but it sure will get better once the DEA runs all the pharmacies under socialized medicine. No more pesky middlemen. You can have what the DEA tells you you can have. If you don’t want to live with chronic pain, feel free to kill yourself (also without their help.)

    1. But Obama said we needed to “just take a pain pill” when we are sick.

      1. And the expiration date on that was . . .?

    2. This is one case where I think we’d be freer with gov’t o-y-o medicine. The fear that prescribers or dispensers of drugs would seek to profit by doing so would be gone, so authorities would loosen up on the supply.

  8. New Mexicans=People who migrated to Mexico?

    1. I was wondering if New Mexican was the evil twin of Old Mexican.

    2. Nah. Mexicans who got lucky when the Texans ran off Santa Ana.

  9. http://www.npr.org/templates/s…..d=12512979

    Well, if you live in New Mexico, it may sound familiar because it turns out some people don’t realize that New Mexico is part of the United States. In fact, this happen so often that New Mexico Magazine has a monthly compilation of these stories called “One Of Our 50 Is Missing.” Its editor is Walter Lopez. He joins us now from Santa Fe.

  10. Why not make it available over the counter? Or have a program to pass out free Suboxone along with the needle exchange and condoms? Roll it into the anti-AIDS programs.

    What kind of side-effects does it have?

    1. What kind of side-effects does it have?

      Apparently it reduces the pain and suffering of addiction.


      1. It’s addicting too.
        Buprenorphine is a long acting partial opioid agonist.
        It prevents WD’s, gives a minor buzz, and if someone does use strong opiates renders the opiates ineffective as it binds to the receptors and blocks the full agonist.
        It is addicting though, and while WD from it is a bit milder than full agonist opioids, its going to take a good long while to feel normal.

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