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Main Street no place for methadone clinic – NashuaTelegraph.com

Main Street no place for methadone clinic – NashuaTelegraph.com.

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When Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau first introduced an ordinance to restrict the location of drug and alcohol treatment centers in Nashua, she was motivated largely by the fact that operators of methadone clinics in New Hampshire were eyeing a vacant storefront on Main Street, across the street from City Hall.

At a public hearing on the measure in late December, professionals in recovery services worried that existing or proposed programs to help all types of addictions could be adversely affected – a point that was reinforced in a subsequent Telegraph editorial entitled “Don’t marginalize addicts seeking help,” Dec. 27.

At that time, the ordinance was worded to restrict “outpatient addiction treatment” to outlying commercial and industrial zones, as long as the operators could meet certain conditions. As worded, the ordinance could have put at risk many of the treatment options currently available through local hospitals, nonprofit groups and private organizations.

Keystone Hall, which has treated thousands of people for addictions in its 20 years on Pine Street Extension, was concerned about expansion plans. Even AA meetings at downtown churches and collaborative treatment programs at the city’s two hospitals could have been affected.

The legislation was rushed into committee to start a 120-day clock designed to prevent the clinic operators from submitting an application while the ordinance was pending. The wording was rough and needed to be refined.

So the mayor went back to the drawing board and revised the ordinance in consultation with representatives from Harbor Homes, Keystone Hall, the local hospitals and others engaged in recovery treatment and services.

The result was a rewording of the ordinance to focus exclusively on “drug replacement therapy.” That ordinance was approved on a voice vote last Tuesday, and now is incorporated into Nashua’s zoning code.

We can understand the logic of preventing a methadone clinic to treat heroin addicts from locating at street level in the heart of the city’s retail district. But well-established programs for alcoholics or other addicts in recovery should not be affected.

By focusing the ordinance on “drug replacement therapy facilities” and defining such facilities in precise terms, the ordinance as approved addresses the concerns raised in December.

It would be wrong to force all addiction and recovery services to outlying industrial and commercial zones. These services are desperately needed, and help reduce crime and health care costs by guiding addicts in their recovery.

Addiction services are already in short supply, and zoning laws that make it even harder for them to expand or relocate only add to the problem.

But a methadone clinic with a daily stream of addicts seeking treatment from medical personnel is in a special category, and can have a unique impact on a business district like Main Street.

Lozeau had to introduce the legislation quickly to prevent an application from the clinic that could have been permitted under existing zoning ordinances. Fortunately the legislative process worked as it should. Stakeholders came to the public hearings, and gave their input. That input was taken into consideration, a better ordinance was drafted, and important protections for the downtown are now in place.

What really bothers me about this one is that they are all for the other treatment center located in town, but are refusing to let a methadone clinic in….what they don’t seem to be considering is that up to 80% of the people getting treatment at the outpatient place will FAIL and still be in active addiction.  It’s the reverse for methadone treatment!  80% of those who stay in treatment will successfully find recovery (find and keep a job, stay out of trouble with the law, repair relationships and family)

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  1. George
    April 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I think they may have opened themselves up to a discrimination law suit. It is OK for everyone else but not a methadone clinic.

  2. April 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    think about this in europe they have clinic where addict do to get their fix in order to keep the drugs of the street. these clinic also treat the addict through monitoring the usage patterns by reducing the amount given, but in such a way the addict still believes they are receiving the same dosage every time. deception is keep cause there will always be support group, but oh how so many become repeat customer to the substance.

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