MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Andrea Storjohann is glad to see that she’s becoming less of a rarity in rural America.
The nurse practitioner prescribes medication to dozens of patients trying to recover from addiction to heroin or opioid painkillers.
The general-practice clinic where she works, housed in a repurposed supermarket building, has no signs designating it as a place for people to seek treatment for drug addiction, which is how Storjohann wants it.
“You could be coming here for OB-GYN care. You could be coming here for a sore throat. You could be coming here for any number of reasons,” and no one in the waiting room would know the difference, she said.
Privacy is an important part of the treatment. And so is the medication Storjohann prescribes: buprenorphine, which staves off cravings and prevents withdrawal symptoms for people who have stopped misusing opioid drugs. The central Iowa clinic, owned by the nonprofit agency Primary Health Care, has offered buprenorphine since 2016. “We were kind of a unicorn in this part of the state,” Storjohann said, but that’s changing.
Unlike methadone, the traditional medication to wean people off heroin or other opioids, …