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Olympia drug clinic's 'relaxed' approach helping more people with opioid addiction

A clinic offering a more relaxed approach towards opioid addiction is helping more people than anticipated.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A “low-barrier” approach to dealing with opioid addiction appears to be working in Olympia. The clinic is one of the first in the nation to offer buprenorphine, or bupe, to patients on a drop-by basis, without any appointment necessary.

Since the Olympia Bupe Clinic opened in January of 2019, managers said more than 200 patients have been helped, a higher number than originally predicted.

“We're trying to save lives," Medical Director Lucinda Grande said.

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Most clinics that offer methadone, or bupe, require patients to adhere to daily schedules. Those patients also have to prove they’re not still using illegal drugs.

Patients at the Olympia Bupe Clinic only have to provide urine samples to prove they’re taking the medication.

Patients are given the pills for free and do not have to have insurance.

Grande said the more relaxed approach makes the clinic more attractive, and accessible to those in need.

“The people at highest risk for overdose death are the ones that have the hardest times getting into the treatment programs,” said Grande.

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“We’re very happy with it,” said Thurston County Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Wood, “It’s filling a necessary service.”

Laura Spracklin credits bupe for keeping her off heroin for the past month. What is Spracklin’s motivation? She’s eight months pregnant.

“I kept getting told if drugs were found in my system the baby might be taken away,” said Spracklin, “I didn’t want that.”