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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

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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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

Preview

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DOI:

10.1080/02791072.2011.605706

David Frank M.A.a*

pages 245-256

Available online: 29 Aug 2011

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Abstract

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.

Dependent on Prescription Drugs, Even Before Birth – NYTimes.com

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Dependent on Prescription Drugs, Even Before Birth – NYTimes.com.

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

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.

Maine news, events, photos, videos, and blogs – Bangor Daily News – Maineville

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Warren postpones methadone clinic plan

By Heather Steeves

BDN Staff

WARREN, Maine — Bob Emery, who is interested in buying an old town school, walked away from a Thursday night planning board meeting without approval or rejection.

Once the board officially stated into record that Emery intended to rent the old school to a methadone clinic, the board decided it could not discuss the issue. The town has a moratorium in place that prevents any action from being taken in relation to methadone clinics.

The planning board previously had approved Emery’s use of the building but in December rescinded its approval after discovering that the old school would become a methadone clinic.

The lack of action on Emery’s new application to use the building comes in the midst of a legal dispute between the town and the company that would rent the building.

CRC Health Group, a national drug abuse treatment company, has threatened to file lawsuits against the town in federal court, stating that a recently enacted moratorium against methadone clinics is against the Americans With Disabilities Act. CRC Health Group plans to move into the school and has filed applications with the state to open the clinic.

The clinic cannot be approved until state officials do a walk-through of the school site.

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via Maine news, events, photos, videos, and blogs – Bangor Daily News – Maineville.

Methadone clinic would be good for L-A | Our View

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Methadone clinic would be good for L-A | Our View.

 

When the Lewiston City Council adopted a special methadone clinic ordinance in 2006, it made locating one here difficult.

Difficult, but not impossible.

The council set intentionally tough standards. Among them: a requirement that a clinic must be more than 1,000 feet from churches, schools, day care centers and parks. That’s about the length of three football fields.

A proposed clinic also would need a license from the city, which would be reviewable each year.

Two tough rules, but clear and fair.

Well, by simply drawing enough circles on a map, a clinic operator, Community Substance Abuse Centers, found a spot on Mollison Way near Sparetime Recreation, and it meets the 1,000-foot requirement.

That’s still too close for several other tenants of the business park who fear their customers will be affected by the clinic’s location.

That is a concern, but rules are rules, and Lewiston established its rules in 2006 and should follow them.

The operator of the proposed clinic has a strong track record of operating professionally and responsibly in other communities, and is emphatic about doing the same here.

In fact, an in-depth report by the Sun Journal Jan. 9 found there were few problems associated with seven of the eight clinics operating in Maine, and the one with problems is operated by a different company.

The clinic operated by CSAC in Portland is not a problem, according to police there. The company operates 10 other clinics in other New England states.

The public tends to misunderstand how such clinics work and underestimates the good they can do in a community.

First, the clinics have nothing to do with methamphetamine, or meth, the extremely dangerous and debilitating drug produced in meth labs.

Methadone clinics mostly treat patients with heroin or prescription painkiller addictions, the fastest-growing drug problem in Maine.

Methadone takes away the obsessive desire for the drugs, but without giving users the euphoric high.

It will surprise no one that we have addicts in our community. What’s surprising is that the second-largest city in the state, and the medical service center for Western Maine, doesn’t already offer this treatment option.

The public might also be surprised by some of the statistics: nearly half of patients are employed at admission; nearly 60 percent a year later.

Often, through the help of a clinic and counseling, clients are once again able to work, support their families and resume nearly normal lives.

One study estimated that for each $1 spent on methadone treatment, society saves $38 in crime, incarceration, unemployment and other expenses.

As things now stand, people seeking such treatment must drive each day from Lewiston-Auburn and Western Maine to clinics in Waterville and Portland.

This is simply wasteful and expensive, making it even more difficult for people with prescription drug problems in our area to obtain effective treatment.

Wisely, Lewiston added a licensing requirement to its methadone clinic ordinance.

If a clinic is built in the proposed location, it must operate cleanly and safely or face losing its license.

Clearly, opiate addiction is a serious medical and social problem and Lewiston-Auburn is the medical hub for a large part of the state.

In the long run, we will all benefit from having this treatment center here.

editorialboard@sunjournal.com

Attorney threatens community, officials with lawsuit to force methadone clinic – Bangor Daily News

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I am so glad that CRC is fighting this!

 

 

Attorney threatens community, officials with lawsuit to force methadone clinic – Bangor Daily News.

 

Attorney threatens community, officials with lawsuit to force methadone clinic

WARREN, Maine — The attorney for a methadone clinic that wants to move into town has threatened to sue the community and local officials for discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Recently, the town’s selectboard enacted a temporary moratorium against methadone clinics while it writes zoning regulations regarding the industry. But in a Dec. 27 letter to the town’s attorney, CRC Health Group Inc.’s lawyer wrote that the moratorium was spawned “in response to vocal community prejudice against people in recovery from opiate addiction” and violates federal law.

CRC’s attorney warned that “the town’s enactment of the moratorium constitutes unlawful discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act, thereby subjecting it to significant liability and exposure to considerable damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.”

However, Warren’s attorney, Patrick Mellor, responded, noting that the company has no legal standing to sue the town.

“If [Mellor] wants to bank hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of taxpayer dollars on that, he can,” CRC attorney James Green countered in a phone interview Tuesday. “That’s why we have courts.”

According to Guy Cousins, director of Maine’s office of Substance Abuse, CRC Health Group Inc. has filed an application with the state to provide service in Warren. All pieces of the application have been passed in — except one.

“The last step of the approval is a facility walkthrough,” Cousins said Tuesday.

The town’s actions, however, have put a hold on that walkthrough, without which the clinic cannot receive its license to operate.

According to Cousins, it’s normal for ADA arguments to arise after a town puts a moratorium against substance abuse treatment centers. Other communities have backed down against such threats and no such case has gone to court yet that he is aware of.

The moratorium against methadone clinics in Warren was put in place shortly after Bob Emery and his company Vixen Land Holdings signed a purchase agreement with the town to buy a former elementary school building on School Street to rent it out for office space.

Soon, word spread around town that a methadone clinic would be operating out of the building. The town’s planning board then rescinded its approval for Emery to turn the school into office space and residents in December voted to enact a six-month moratorium against methadone clinics.

CRC’s attorney asserts that the Warren planning board’s revocation of Emery’s permit is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The town’s attorney responded, “if you have any information that would suggest that Vixen Land Holdings LLC is somehow an agent on behalf of CRC Health Group Inc., please provide the same and I will reassess my opinion accordingly.”

Vixen Land Holding’s owner Emery has said several times in public meetings that he had no formal agreement with CRC Health Group, but acknowledged at a Dec. 2 public meeting that the methadone clinic did intend to rent from him.

After the planning board took back its approval, Emery’s lawyer also told the town that the issue would likely end up in court.

As of Tuesday, no complaints had been filed in the Knox County courts or in the U.S. District Court.