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The Calgary Sun – Addicts deserve a second chance

The Calgary Sun – Addicts deserve a second chance.

For a city that has repeatedly professed its enthusiasm to do anything it can to fight crime, the ongoing saga over where a methadone clinic is allowed to exist shows lack of understanding, lack of care or just plain incompetence.

And the vivid reaction of some Calgary businesspeople, would-be neighbours of this clinic, belies our supposed open-mindedness and social conscience — the “heart” in the Heart of the New West.

As reported in the Sun yesterday, the Second Chance Recovery clinic, serving some 500 people recovering from opiate addictions, has decided to throw in the towel and close for good, a victim of the prejudices of some Calgarians and the long, thick red tape of this city’s bureaucracy.

When the lease on the clinic’s current location ends in a few months, those who need help to fight their inner demons will have nowhere to go — at least not right away.

A public clinic at the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre could take on these recovering addicts but there will be a months-long gap in service while patient files are transferred.


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According to the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, methadone is used as a treatment to simulate the effect of opiates without the high, reducing an addict’s cravings for illicit drugs, allowing for former drug users to lead a more normal, productive life.

Most important, though, is to keep in mind methadone is not a cure.

By all accounts, patients on methadone who are suddenly left without treatment might have trouble fighting their cravings and are at risk of returning to their old ways, causing harm to themselves — and potentially to other — in the process.

As the Second Chance Recovery clinic’s executive director Bill Leslie told the Sun, “of those 500 people, a percentage are going to make really stupid decisions.

“People who want a fix do not make intelligent decisions.”

So as the clinic’s clients are left to their own devices to beat their drug addiction, it will leave all manner of other people at risk, too.

Any business or medical facility that carries opiates in their inventory is a prime target for addicts unable to kick their habit.

The ensuing social chaos and criminal activity will mean extra work for police officers, EMS technicians and medical staff at clinics and hospital emergency rooms.

Because it appears nobody wants to become a new neighbour of the Second Chance clinic, this entire debacle could be resolved with the waiving the $130,000 cost of a simple zoning change — a cost the clinic’s landlord can’t bear — allowing it to remain in its current home in the Greenview industrial area in the city’s northeast.

It might seems like a lot of money, but it’s really a pittance compared with the millions of dollars demanded by the city to bolster the number of police officers on our streets.

For those still not convinced, the clinic’s current location would soothe Calgarians’ apparent discomfort with regard to methadone clinics.

In keeping with our habit of shoving social services into out-of-sight, out-of-mind locations, the middle of an industrial area seems like a perfect fit for a Calgary methadone clinic.

It’s a shame we are showing such callousness toward people who are actively seeking to rid themselves of their chemical dependence, doing what they can to improve their lives — and indirectly improving the well-being of the city as a whole.

Give this methadone clinic a second chance.

RICKY.LEONG@SUNMEDIA.CA

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