Marauding on methadone?

By Sara Rooseboom

While reading the comments below a story on the CBC website regarding location disputes for a methadone clinic, I could barely contain my laughter. The majority of commenters seem to have the idea in their head that a methadone clinic is the same thing as a safe-injection site and some even went so far as to label such clinics drug dealers. Honestly!

So what is the fuss? The Second Chance Recovery clinic was located downtown for six years before moving to a light industrial park on 41 Ave. N.E. a few months ago when its lease was up. However, the City is now requiring the clinic to move once again due to zoning restrictions. The clinic treats people trying to overcome opiate addictions, including heroin. Bill Leslie, who runs the clinic, told CTV reporters that the clinic serves approximately 500 people from all walks of life. Calgary has only one other methadone clinic, which is run by the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission and has a three-month waiting list. Obviously, there is a need for this second clinic to remain operational. The only problem is finding a location for it.

There has been talk of the clinic moving to Forest Lawn, but this has sparked sharp backlash from the community association, as has been the case with any community suggested as a possible location. Apparently, community members believe people who use the clinic are unsavoury types who they would prefer to keep out of their backyards and away from their children. There is fear that the recovering addicts (seen only as “addicts” or “druggies” by community members) will increase crime in the community and attract drug dealers and other criminals. This simply is not so.

Anyone who is using the clinic is doing so out of a desire to change their lives, to turn them around and make something positive of themselves. Why else would they seek such help?

“Next time you come to your car and some druggie has smashed a window for the change that fell out of your pocket you can think about how warm and comfy they are shooting up in drug treatment strategy,” wrote one of the commenters below the CBC story. It is these kinds of misconceptions that make people want to avoid utilizing the services offered by recovery clinics such as Second Chance. The stigma of having to admit to addiction and being subsequently and mistakenly labelled as a threat to safety and security is not helpful, nor is the misperception of methadone clinics as “drug pushers.”

Community members in Forest Lawn say that their neighbourhood is already stricken with enough crime, drugs and violence and this is the reason for not wanting a clinic whose mandate is to treat those unsavoury types. Do these people not realize that the point of this clinic is to decrease drug addiction in the city? If addicts already congregate in certain areas, does it not make sense to locate a clinic there? The point is, those making use of the clinic’s services are not going to be smashing windows on their way to and from the clinic to find change for their next fix. They are going to the clinic to get their “fix” of methadone in an uphill battle to break the bonds of their addiction. They are not there to abduct children, vandalize property, steal or harm anyone. They are there to give themselves a second chance. So let’s let them get on with it already.

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