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Son’s drug struggle motivates dad’s fight for methadone clinic — Health — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Son’s drug struggle motivates dad’s fight for methadone clinic — Health — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

Posted Jan. 15, 2012, at 1:19 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 15, 2012, at 4:12 p.m.
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Bob Emery Jr. has been fighting to help bring a methadone clinic into the town of Warren for over a year. His son Robert is a recovering from drug addiction with the help of methadone and Bob is hoping to help people with similar problems.

Bob Emery Jr. has been fighting to help bring a methadone clinic into the town of Warren for over a year. His son Robert is a recovering from drug addiction with the help of methadone and Bob is hoping to help people with similar problems. Buy Photo

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WARREN, Maine — Bob Emery Jr. has taken a lot of heat for working to bring a proposed methadone clinic to this Knox County town. He has lost business at his construction company, he said. Half his staff has quit over the controversy. His family has been targeted and is upset. But he won’t let it go. For him, it’s not about business. This is about his son.

In 2004, his son, Robert Emery III, who was 20, went snowmobiling with his friends in Rockwood, near Moosehead Lake. He was accelerating when he misjudged a corner. In a second, his back slammed into a tree and his snowmobile kept him pinched there. He ruptured two disks, pinched off several nerves and aggravated his already painful scoliosis in the accident, doctors found. For his pain, the doctor gave Robert oxycodone, a narcotic.

It helped for a while, but after a year the medicine stopped having any effect.

“I built up a tolerance for them. My normal prescription wasn’t helping me,” Robert said.

When he went to his doctor, the doctor refused to increase the dosage. The pain became unbearable. When Robert sat, he hurt. When he stood, the pain was excruciating. It didn’t stop during any minute of the day or night. He couldn’t sleep.

“That’s when I started self-medicating and buying stuff on the street,” Robert said.

It got scary fast. He worried about how quickly he had become numb to the oxycodone and he wanted to quit using it. So Robert tried to stop altogether in 2005.

“That’s when I learned about withdrawals. The first withdrawal was the worst thing I’ve ever been through,” he said. “My whole body was in pain, hot and cold sweats, all my joints were aching. I couldn’t sleep. I’d get so sick and throw up. I lasted two days.”

All he knew was that he was in a lot of pain and needed more drugs to make it go away. According to Robert, he never felt high from the drugs — he just felt like he was in less pain. He went back to the streets for relief. Robert’s entire life became consumed by drugs. He had been prescribed 60 mg of oxycodone a day by his doctor. Soon, he was up to 300 mg or more per day, although sometimes he had to settle for Vicodin or Percocet.

He stopped showing up for work. He stopped cleaning his house. He stopped going outside. He didn’t care about fishing or hanging out with his family anymore.

“It got to the point where I was not caring about any of my things. To give you an example, in 2007 I had a 2005 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200, brand new, a beautiful bike,” Robert said. “It got to the point where one day I was out of money and sick [from withdrawal] and was desperate. Without thinking about it at all I called a friend that I was buying [drugs] off of and sold my Harley to him for 30 oxycodone pills. It breaks my heart.”

The bike had cost him $12,000. He had sold it for two day’s worth of pills with a street value of about $1,000.

And that’s how life was for Robert. For four more years.

“Anything of any value I had I’d pawn or sell to get more drugs,” Robert said. “Every day I was searching and hunting for the next pill. That consumed every minute of my every day. That’s how it was until 2009. I had sold everything I had. All my belongings, everything I worked so hard for — everything was gone. That’s when I hit rock bottom. I started realizing I needed to do something about it.”

He went back to his doctor, who gave him suboxone, a prescription drug intended to help individuals become less dependent on opiates such as heroin. It worked for a couple months before the cravings for pills overtook him. He tried suboxone again — five more times. It just didn’t work for him. That’s when he heard about methadone, a synthetic narcotic used to help people who are addicted to opiates.

By then it was 2010 and the Turning Tide methadone clinic was operating two towns over, in Rockland. He attended one session and the next day began his dose of methadone.

“That first day when I got there I felt ill — I was not taking anything. They tell you not to do anything the day before. An hour and a half later I came out of it and started feeling OK. As the day went on I started feeling OK,” Robert said. “I wasn’t thinking about pills. Things were going good. I thought, ‘This might work.’ I kept going back.”

Soon he was back to work. He went fishing with his friends again. He was on better terms with his family, and, overall, he cared about his life again.

Then, unexpectedly, the Rockland methadone clinic was shut down by federal agents who arrested the clinic’s owner for doing drugs. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency said Turning Tide had become a danger to public safety.

“My heart sunk. What am I going to do now?” Robert said.

He was reassigned to a Waterville clinic, which was a four-hour round trip each day. In his ¾-ton pickup, it cost about $200 in gas plus about $100 for his treatments each week.

“Four months in, I was struggling. I was really struggling financially,” he said.

He gave up and tried to get off all drugs, cold turkey, but only lasted three days before buying pills off the street. After a month of that, he realized he needed methadone. So he sold his truck for a 4-cylinder car to save on gas and made daily trips to a Portland clinic for months before he started doing research and found a doctor near him who prescribes methadone. Now he goes there monthly for his methadone and a drug test. He goes to counseling each week and has been sober on methadone for 13 months.

“Things are going awesome. They’re great now,” Robert said. “I’m not lying. I’m not cheating. I’m not stealing. I was stealing from my family and friends. I stole a lot of money off my own dad to get pills. I wouldn’t even think of doing something like that now. I got my conscience back. Back then I didn’t have one.”

The stealing part was the thing that most upset his father, with whom he is close. After all, his dad, Bob Emery, owns the business Robert was stealing from — and he had only built those companies for his kids to inherit one day. But for the last 13 months, things have been great.

“Ever since I started methadone, my dad saw a huge change in me. He was the happiest guy alive,” Robert said. “When I first mentioned [methadone] to him, he didn’t like the idea — he was skeptical like everyone is now. He said I was just trading one drug for another. I see why some people might think that’s true, but it’s not. It totally turned my life around.”

Robert might be considered one of the lucky ones. He found a doctor near him who would treat him with methadone. But it’s unlikely that the 280 people who were served by the Turning Tide clinic in Rockland all are now getting the same treatment — in fact, according to the state office on substance abuse, only about 85 percent of those people successfully transferred to another clinic.

When Bob Emery Jr., 58, of Rockport, watched his son turn his life around through the Rockland clinic and then struggle through withdrawals and draining his pockets with his four-hour, round-trip drives to a new clinic, Emery knew he had to get involved. He started calling everyone involved with methadone treatment in Maine. Soon, he got in touch with Guy Cousins at the state’s substance abuse office, who told him CRC Healthgroups, a methadone clinic business, was looking to move to Maine. For more than a year, he’s been working diligently to find CRC a home in Warren, and it hasn’t been easy, he said. After losing a deal with the town to purchase an old school building for the clinic, he’s offered up his own business headquarters on Route 1, which is being considered by the town to be the new site.

It has cost his business. Picketers sometimes hold anti-methadone signs and wear buttons outside the office of his construction company. He has been called a drug dealer and there have been nasty things said about his family. Several of his employees have quit over the controversy. But he won’t stop fighting.

“I’m here to help. [When Robert was on pills] it was a devastating time. Things have changed tremendously. I know no matter how bad it gets, I’m the one who has always been there for him. I want to help these people. There must be, in these 280 people, people who just want to be healthy again. That’s why I’ve done everything I’ve done,” said Bob Emery. “As long as I’m living and breathing, if there is anything I can do to help these people and my son, I will.”



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

September 29, 2011 1 comment

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


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.


The Trouble with Morality: The Effects of 12-Step Discourse on Addicts’ Decision-Making – Journal of Psychoactive Drugs – Volume 43, Issue 3

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

Volume 43, Issue 3, 2011

The Trouble with Morality: The Effects of 12-Step Discourse on Addicts’ Decision-Making

The Trouble with Morality: The Effects of 12-Step Discourse on Addicts’ Decision-Making


Buy now



David Frank M.A.a*

pages 245-256

Available online: 29 Aug 2011

Alert me


Since its development in the 1960s, researchers have extensively scrutinized methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) as a medical response to heroin addiction. Studies consistently find that MMT is more successful than other treatment models in the reduction of opiate/opioid misuse, the transmission of diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, and criminal arrest and conviction rates. Nonetheless, a significant portion of active and former heroin addicts view MMT negatively and—perhaps as a result—MMT is vastly underused. This study examines the effects of 12-Step discourses on the opinions and treatment decisions of active heroin addicts, addicts in MMT, and addicts in 12-Step treatment programs. The study finds the abstinence/morality based discourse of drug addiction and treatment is pervasive among addicts and their non-drug using relations and peers alike; moreover, addicts have internalized this narrative, oftentimes despite their own knowledge of MMT’s success and positive personal experiences. The findings suggest that the dominance of abstinence/morality narratives contributes to MMT’s poor reputation among, and low use rate by current and former heroin addicts and that the power of the dominant discourse is such that it produces a desire to buy into its values and tenets even when it is against the individual’s interests to do so.

via Taylor & Francis Online :: The Trouble with Morality: The Effects of 12-Step Discourse on Addicts’ Decision-Making – Journal of Psychoactive Drugs – Volume 43, Issue 3.

MAAR: Events | Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Yeah Deb!



Deb Dettor has been selected by the Board of Day One to receive the Community Vision Award for her leadership in establishing a community presence and voice about recovery, and for providing community support to reduce youth alcohol and drug related problems. This award will be presented to Ms. Dettor at the Day One Annual Dinner Celebration on September 15, 2011.

We are delighted that Deb will be recognized for her many years of dedicated service on behalf of recovering people. We thank the Board of Day One for honoring Deb’s achievements through this award presentation, and for highlighting the importance of recovery presence and voice in strengthening recovery within our communities. click for flyer


A new Recovery Community Center will open in Portland this Fall!

See the MAAR webpage devoted to this exciting new program.

via MAAR: Events | Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs.

Dependent on Prescription Drugs, Even Before Birth –

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Dependent on Prescription Drugs, Even Before Birth –

A great story that shows the good, bad and the ugly of prescription drug addiction and how devastating it can be to young mothers!

U.S. ‘Addicted’ to Drug Courts, Critics Say

March 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Fear of lawsuit cancels methadone town meeting – Daniel Dunkle – Rockland – Camden – Knox – The Herald Gazette

March 21, 2011 2 comments

What exactly it is these people are scared of?  They will have addicts in their town–“DONE addicts” as they call us,  live everywhere.  They will have a facility in their mist that gives out narcotics every day?  Warren is right next to Waldoboro and WALTZ pharmacy hands out methadone and many more narcotics every day. That they will have addicts congragating and talking amongst each other to help each other thru rough times? DONE-ever heard of an AA meeting?

If the town could name even ONE reason they are scared of a methadone clinic that isn’t already a part of their every day lives or isn’t a completely irrational fear-it would be a good start in showing they are being discriminatory.

I heard someone actually say the other day that the clinic shouldn’t be in the school because children USED to be on the premises.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME PEOPLE?  What are the patients going to do, hurt the memories of the children?

Fear of lawsuit cancels methadone town meeting – Daniel Dunkle – Rockland – Camden – Knox – The Herald Gazette.

Warren — In an emergency meeting March 16 Warren selectmen voted 4-0 to cancel the March 22 town meeting at which townspeople would have been asked to vote on proposed methadone clinic rules and regulations.

Town Manager Grant Watmough said the town’s attorney, Patrick Mellor, has recommended changing the proposed methadone clinic ordinance due to a potential lawsuit threatened by CRC Health Group. CRC has proposed establishing a clinic in the former school in town, and its attorney, James Green of Florida, argues the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the town from discriminating against methadone clinics and the patients they treat.

A town committee recently completed work on the proposed methadone regulations, which would be added as a new section of the land use ordinance if approved by the town. On the advice of attorney Mellor they worked as fast as possible to complete the proposed ordinance so that it could be put before voters and the town’s moratorium on methadone clinics could be ended. Working quickly, it was hoped, would help avoid a potential lawsuit.

At the meeting, town officials noted that CRC’s lawyer, Green, who is a top expert on the ADA law, has reviewed the proposed ordinance. After talks with Green, the town attorney has proposed taking several things out of the new methadone clinic ordinance. Mellor was not able to attend the meeting.

“This town writes its ordinances,” committee Chairman Michael York argued. “James Green doesn’t write the ordinances for this town. I don’t care if he threatens to sue the town or not. They’re going to do what they’re going to do.”

His comments were met with applause from the townspeople in attendance at the meeting.

“CRC doesn’t like what’s in the ordinance, so they’re using a stick to beat it out of them,” York said.

He argued the proposed changes to the ordinance “take the teeth” out of it.

Watmough said at the meeting that even if the changes to the ordinance are made, there’s no guarantee or assurance that CRC won’t file a lawsuit against the town.

Selectmen voted to send the ordinance back to the committee to continue working on it. They said the issue is not going to be dealt with at the annual town meeting March 29, but at a special town meeting once the committee has completed its work.

“We’ve started jumping through hoops,” York said. “It was three weeks ago now.”

The committee was originally given six months to work on the ordinance after the town declared a moratorium on methadone clinics. Several weeks ago, the committee was told to finish its work as soon as possible and get an ordinance before the voters to end the moratorium and the committee responded, York said, by working late into the night during several meetings per week to get the work done. In doing so, the committee looked at methadone ordinances from several other Maine towns.

“It’s done us absolutely no good,” York said March 16, concerning the ongoing specter of a potential lawsuit.

York added that throughout the process, the committee members asked the town attorney if the proposed ordinance passes ADA muster.

The town attorney has proposed removing several items from the proposed ordinance including the $5,000 application fee and the $2,500 annual review fee. Those fees were put in place to offset the town’s expenses in hiring experts to review applications for methadone treatment clinics.

However, the proposed change would then refer to rules in the town’s Site Plan Review Ordinance. Under the site plan ordinance the planning board would still be able to set a fee, though the fee amount is not specified.

The setback requirements would be amended to say no clinic may be located within 1,000 feet of any church, school, day care, library, park or playground “unless the applicant can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the planning board that no other practical alternative is available.” In a similar wording, clinics would not be allowed within 500 feet of residences unless they can demonstrate that no practical alternative is available.

Facilities will still be limited to Route 1 and Route 90.

Also cut from the methadone ordinance would be the requirement to present a business plan with hours of operation, number of clients, methods of treatment, background checks for clinic employees and many other pieces of information. All of that would be replaced by the state regulations for Substance Abuse Treatment Programs.

Most of the committee’s proposed traffic condition requirements would be slashed from the methadone ordinance.

York asked that the committee be allowed to hire an attorney that specializes in the ADA law.

Selectmen John Crabtree noted that the town has a budget for legal costs, but added that any ADA expert is likely to have been schooled by Green.

Selectman Christine Wakely asked Watmough to put together a list of ADA experts for the committee.

One of the challenges the town faces, York said, is that the moratorium and ordinance are reactionary measures. If the town had an ordinance on the books before a methadone clinic had been proposed, the situation would be somewhat different.

Some residents questioned why CRC even has the standing to sue the town, given the fact that CRC has no application before the town. Businessman Robert Emery through his company Vixen Land Holdings LLC had a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy the former school from the town. He went before the planning board Nov. 4 and received approval for professional offices in that building. The planning board later rescinded that approval. CRC never filed an application, but had planned to be a tenant in the building after Emery bought it.

Mellor argued in a Dec. 30 letter to Green that CRC Health Group has no standing to request relief from the town.

York said March 16 that is not the case. Under ADA law, any service provider of methadone has standing to sue if the town has a moratorium in place.

“I’m just as frustrated as you,” York said.

Sarah Betts Alley argued that she voted against the moratorium because it should have included both methadone clinics and medical marijuana clinics.

“CRC wants the brick school and they will fight for it. They have the money,” she said.

Town officials said Emery’s purchase-and-sale agreement is null and void on the former school because he did not produce a written commitment from a lender for the project as specified by the contract. Mellor sent Emery’s attorney Philip Cohen a letter March 1 saying the contract was null and void.

Cohen said in a meeting that he and his client had not agreed to that assessment of the situation.

Town officials noted at the meeting that Emery could go to court seeking to overturn that town decision.

The next ordinance committee meeting will be Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m. at the town office.

Selectman Frank Braun was absent from the meeting.