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Journal Tribune: York County’s Only Daily Newspaper > Archives > Editorial > Unfortunately, methadone clinic is needed here

via Journal Tribune: York County’s Only Daily Newspaper > Archives > Editorial > Unfortunately, methadone clinic is needed here.

 

It’s not up to the council to decide whether methadone clinics actually help addicts recover or whether they belong in Sanford. Federal law has already decided that the clinics must be allowed. Councilor Joe Hanslip was right to urge the council in 2008 to focus on the zoning only, leaving personal opinions aside. Does the application adhere to the restrictions of the ordinance they approved in 2008? It appears so, and that should be the end of the matter.

 

Unfortunately, methadone clinic is needed here

Published:

Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:06 PM EDT

Sanford recently received an application for what would be the first methadone clinic in York County – and the proposal has caused some unease among council members.

Spectrum Health Systems Inc. of Worcester, Mass. has submitted an application for a license to operate an outpatient methadone treatment clinic at 61 Eagle Drive. The clinic would provide this synthetic narcotic, used to treat addiction to heroin and other opiates, and would also offer counseling.

Council Chairman Gordon Paul has said he does not want to see a methadone clinic in town under any circumstances, and we’re sure many residents share that sentiment. Most of us think of these clinics as being more at place in big cities, amidst skyscrapers and subways, than in our bucolic little New England towns.

Drug addiction, however, is not confined to big cities. Maine has the highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the nation, according to a report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released in January. Since 1998, the report shows, Mainers have been seeking treatment for addiction to non-heroin opiates at a higher rate than those in other states or in the nation. Oxycodone, known by its brand name OxyContin, has become so popular that people are regularly robbing pharmacies throughout York County to get it.

Recently, the use of hallucinogenic “bath salts” in northern Maine has wreaked such havoc that the governor and our U.S. representatives have embarked on a crusade to make them illegal not only in the state, but nationwide. A seminar on these stimulants is slated for next Tuesday in York County as law enforcement officials brace for the epidemic to hit home.

With drug abuse a persistent problem in Maine, it makes sense that treatment options should be available here, too.

According to its application, Spectrum Health Systems Inc. has extensive experience running methadone clinics, with five opiate treatment clinics in Massachusetts along with several other treatment and counseling programs. The company says it does random drug testing and would not dispense medication to anyone under the influence. Rules are in place for distribution and ingestion of the drug, as well as the refill process. With early morning hours for dosing, we doubt this clinic is going to become a hang-out for criminals, and if it does, we trust authorities will take            swift action.

Much like the medical marijuana dispensaries that have been approved statewide, there are many, many restrictions in place for these facilities that ensure security and safe operation.

It’s not up to the council to decide whether methadone clinics actually help addicts recover or whether they belong in Sanford. Federal law has already decided that the clinics must be allowed. Councilor Joe Hanslip was right to urge the council in 2008 to focus on the zoning only, leaving personal opinions aside. Does the application adhere to the restrictions of the ordinance they approved in 2008? It appears so, and that should be the end of the matter.

If problems arise with the site, that’s when they can be addressed by requiring more security or other measures, but the business should not be discriminated against from the get-go.

Back in 2008, when Sanford passed its Mental Health and Abuse Centers ordinance to control where these clinics could locate, three town councilors came out in opposition. Councilor Bradford Littlefield had even said at the time that the council should pursue court action to keep a clinic out of town.

Thankfully, the rest of the council has had the good sense not to go down that path, which would have been an expensive, losing battle for the town that would have also painted them unaccepting of an individual’s right to choose how they receive medical treatment.

In an ideal world, drug abuse would be non-existent, but that’s not the world in which we live. That said, we must do all that we can to provide resources for people to recover and move on with their lives. Having this clinic available in a major population center such as Sanford will be a step forward in that process. Right now, the closest methadone treatment centers are many miles away, with the closest located 15 miles away in Somersworth, N.H. The clinics in South Portland, Portland and Westbrook may as well be a world away for those struggling with addiction, particularly considering transportation challenges and expense.

It’s easier to ignore the area’s drug problem and let it fester in the underground while the rest of us go on with our average lives. It’s harder to say, “Yes, I live in a town with a methadone clinic,” and acknowledge that it’s for the best because there are some people who really need the treatment.

 

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  1. November 24, 2011 at 4:32 am

    The funny thing about fighting these methadone clinics for the reasons commonly given, is that those arguments merely pretend that addiction problems do not exist. To pretend that there is any town in Maine where everyone is drug free is to live in denial.

    Rather than acting like a clinic or rehab is going to bring addicts into the area, they need to realize that the addicts already exist, and treatment is likely the best course for the community.

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