“I’ll be the first corpse,” says Sveta Filatova when asked about initiatives to terminate Kyrgyzstan’s methadone programs. A heroin addict for 10 years, Filatova has been taking the opioid substitute for three and says it’s changed her life, enabled her to reconnect with family, and hold a job.
Filatova is one of about 200 methadone patients who come to Bishkek’s Clinic No. 6 every day. The process lasts about a minute: In a little room accessible through a backdoor to the hospital, a dedicated nurse takes patients’ signatures before double-checking the doses and pouring the clear liquid in a disposable cup. Many patients come early in the morning, before work.
Addicts say the hardest part of kicking heroin is the physical pain of withdrawal. Methadone, a synthetic analgesic, helps kill the pain, but doesn’t give a high. “With methadone you don’t need heroin. You feel okay without it. It’s simple, it’s free, it’s accessible, you take it and feel clear in the head and can work,” Filatova, 42, told EurasiaNet.org.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.