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the Gauntlet

Methadone clinic seeks new home

Clinic given three months to find a welcoming community

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A zoning violation could drive the Second Chance Recovery centre, one of Calgary's two methadone clinics, out of its current home and negatively impact the 500 clients receiving methadone treatment for drug addiction.

Last Tuesday, the city's subdivision and development appeal board upheld a city directive ordering the clinic to relocate from the northeast Greenview Industrial Park community and giving them a three-month extension to find the new location.

The staff considered a move to the southeast community of Forest Lawn, however that too saw backlash from community associations, business owners, Ward four alderman Bob Hawkesworth and Ward 10 alderman Andre Chabot.

The clinic treats those addicted to heroin and morphine with methadone, which can reduce cravings and withdrawal symp- toms.

The City ordered the clinic to move from its northeast location in January because the area is not zoned for medical use. The clinic brought the order to the subdivision and development appeal board committee, warning the closure would flood emergency rooms with methadone patients who would be helpless without the treatment.

Hawkesworth argued that the clinic was not singled out because they were a methadone clinic, but because they failed to get permission for their old location and failed to comply with the city's land use bylaw.

"They were treated no differently than anyone else would have been treated who was not in compliance with the planning rules," said Hawkesworth.

He said there are hundreds of locations across Calgary where methadone can be administrated in compliance with the city's land use rules.

Hugh Ham, the clinic's lawyer, argued the three-month extension is too short. The clinic needs to find a site, apply for a development permit and review and approve construction before they can move.

"In one case, Alderman Chabot, who has no medical training or expertise, attacked the clinic on the grounds that the treatment offered, in his view, is of no value," said Ham. "That opinion is contrary to the view of, among others, the College of Physicians and Surgeons."

Last week, Chabot told the Calgary Herald that using methadone to help addicts was "like trying to wean a baby off chocolate using candy."

Ham explained the clinic is important to patients who need methadone to recover from addictions.

He said there is a need for physicians with specific training and a federal licence, in addition to regulated pharmacies. The only other such clinic in Calgary, run by the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, has a three-month waiting list.

"Not all addicts are the street people depicted on television," he said. "They can be fathers, mothers, siblings, doctors, lawyers or accountants. Even street people deserve a second chance."

The war of words came as no surprise to University of Calgary psychology professor David Hodgins. He said methadone is an extremely effective treatment supported by a solid base of scientific evidence, but people are still nervous about using a drug to combat a drug addiction.

Ham mentioned both Medicine Hat and Lethbridge have shown interest in allowing the Second Chance Recovery clinic to set up there instead.

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Comments

Apparently Alderman Chabot has never struggled with opiate addiction. He apparently has never had a drug ruin his life and then tried to seek help for that addiction. Opiate addiction can and will destroy your life, stopping this addiction is not as easy as some beleive, you can't just stop taking them, suffer for a day or two, then be fine. It does'nt work that way. Withdraw can last for weeks-months, day after day of feeling withdraw usually brings the person back to opiates, and for some reguardless of the time spent not taking opiates they never get back to "normal", sometimes past addictive behaviors can alter brain chemistry permently, thus leaving a person struggling day after day with depression, hopelessness and fatigue. This is the reason some people need long term treatment. Methadone takes away active addiction. It enables a person to live without the obsession of opiates, it allows them to hold down jobs and live a productive life. Opiate addicts do NOT get high from their doses. Tolerance happens to addicts long before treatment is even sought, addicts take opiates to feel "normal". It's almost impossible for anyone to understand this unless they have struggled with opiate addiction themselves. So, Alderman Chabot is speaking about something he has NO CLUE about, and it's sad because many people will listen to him without seeking out the truth for themselves.

Great, all around coverage that highlights more than just a silly municipal zoning law. It illustrates that this medical clinic is up against more than just zoning, it makes it clear that the ELECTED city officials are creating more hassle than necessary. Great article.

Please consider joining the Facebook group to show your support, create discussions and bring forth idea's for Second Chance Recovery and the unneccessary resistance they are fighting with some city Aldermen.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/edit.php?success=1&customize&gid=64758894991#/group.php?gid=64758894991&ref=mf

I am really nervous about using a drug to combat a drug addiction!

Fuck, I just ran out of tylenol to cure my fucking hangover. And now I have a fucking nicotine buzz, maybe I should take some nicoderm. Oh, but wait, although I'm on a diet, my nutritionist said I can have one weekly unhealthy meal, like pizza and beer. But lastly, there's a forest fire, I should join the others and have controlled burns in order to control it.

Oh, anyways, opiates to cure opiate addiction? That's fucking nonsense!

the real tragedy in this story is that fucking ugly building. i would imagine a methadone clinic would actually be a boon for a piece of shit commercial domicile like that.

please, name me one place in the world outside of usa and canaduh where a building like that wouldn't be burnt to the ground on the sole basis of its appearance. ok, excluding common wealth countries as well.