What is the real problem with the Methadone Clinic on Talbot St.?

At every community forum and website there are also comments concerning the methadone clinic on the west end of Talbot St. Clinic 217 – St. Thomas Pharmacy Clinic is located opposite where a strip club used to gather its single dollars and across from an empty lot that used to house a gas station. As you drive into St. Thomas from London it is on the left hand side, and what you see are two large signs that state its name.

There appear to be several issues concerning the clinic, from its location to its clients.

Firstly, let’s clear up a couple of reasons not to have a methadone clinic on Talbot St. It promotes crime!

Wrong!

A study by a University of Maryland School of Medicine assistant professor debunks concerns that the clinics breed crime and drag down neighborhoods.

“The study used FBI Uniform Crime reports from the Baltimore Police Department to look at crime near 13 methadone clinics for a two-year period beginning in 1999. Researchers compared these reports to crime data for similar areas in Baltimore where there were no methadone clinics.

They also compared crime around methadone clinics to crime near hospitals and convenience stores in the city. Crime was more likely to occur around convenience stores, the researchers found.”

Perhaps the city should look at moving convenience stores off Talbot St.?

Why should we let addicts visit a clinic on Talbot St. just to get high?

Well apart from the fact that addicts would have to visit the clinic no matter where it is, the answer is that methadone does not get you high.

As it states on the SupportNet.ca website “When you first begin to take methadone, you may feel a little light-headed or drowsy. But after you take methadone for a short while, it does not cause any change in how you feel.

Those who take methadone regularly – and who stop using other mind altering drugs – will usually say that their mind settles and their thinking clears.”

Perhaps the problem is that the clinic, located at the front of the city coming in from London is a discouraging sign for visitors? The signs could be changed, made less, well, clinical. Unless you are looking closely, there are no other indications of what the building is used for.

While a lot of communities are reluctant about having a clinic in their midst, not all shy away from it. A recent article in the Ottawa Citizen featured a neighbour of a clinic who had become friends with an addict. The reason why there methadone clinics is because there is a need for them.

A lot of people seem to believe that the only users of a methadone clinic are young drug addicts who have chosen to become involved with drugs. A quick list of opiates include: Opium, Heroin, Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Darvocet, Percocet, Vicodin. See that last one on the list? Vicodin. If you watched House you will know that he was addicted to Vicodin. Pain killers are another cause of the need for methadone. Perhaps it is just the younger addicts that draw attention?

If it is the addicts that are the problem, being unruly and offensive, shouldn’t they be treated the same way that mid-day drunks would be treated? If the issue is addicts hanging around the clinic and causing problems, then perhaps a police man should situate themselves outside the clinic to make sure everyone plays nice.

To get a methadone clinic prescription, an addict must be referred by a M.D., which means that a doctor has seen the patient, recognized the need for addiction treatment and prescribed it. Since you don’t get high from methadone, wouldn’t it be logical that those attending the clinics are truly trying to curb their addiction? Why else would they visit the clinic? The clinic doesn’t just offer methadone, it offers ‘education, access to counseling and other health services. It provides opportunity for stability in lifestyle and recovery from addiction.’

Rather than focusing on the clinic, why not think about the reason St. Thomas has one to begin with. You don’t put an underwear store on a nudist beach, there has to be a demand for the product. St. Thomas has addicts. They could be drug addicts looking to get clean or simply someone who had become hooked on painkillers. The reason why shouldn’t be important, rather how we can help them and what can we do to reduce the numbers? If there are higher numbers than average, we should find the cause and deal with it.

In the UK, there is a trend of people being NIMBY (not in my backyard) as in, I agree we need this or that but I don’t want it around me. We cannot afford to take that attitude in St. Thomas as it goes against everything that this community represents. St. Thomas is a very proud city that has fallen on hard times, financially, employment wise and socially. Don’t add morally to the list.

If the clinic did leave St. Thomas there would be another outcry about the city losing yet another service. Haven’t we lost enough already?

And one final note. In the daily media releases from the St. Thomas Police department, you are more often going to see arrests concerning alcohol than you are concerning someone who is high.

Sources:

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-04-30/health/bs-hs-methadone-clinic-crime-20120412_1_methadone-clinics-methadone-users-crime-data
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Somerset+Street+neighbourhood+adapts+methadone+clinic/6462956/story.html
http://SupportNet.ca

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  1. I think it is alot of the near by businesses that object to the location of the clinic. I’m sure not all of the clients are young addicts but some are. A few bad apples always spoil the bunch. If there are unruly clients loitering about, perhaps it would be better if the clinic was located in or near a hospital instead in the heart of downtown where business are trying to attract customers. I think it would make more sense to have the clinic in the hospital; it would probably promote more privacy for the clients too since most of the town will know what and where the clinic is and clients can be seen entering and exiting the clinic. Maybe some of them would like some confidentiality.

  2. Location is the only issue here. Good that someone who has made some bad decisions is getting help. Hopefully the stats change and the majority actually stay clean. When I drive into any city center , I would like to see cafe,s , biestro,s, patio,s . Vibrant inviting locations to bring familys and people of all ages, for entertainment or education. ie museums. Drive into ST Thomas and what do you see. Empty lot, clinic, nothing says park your car and spend time here. Why not locate the clinic by the pysch hospital. Lots of land.

  3. Thank you for this informative article. I learned a lot through it and hope to pass some of my new found knowledge on to others. And, if there is anything else I can do, like volunteer, I want to put actions to my good intentions – and invite others to do so too.

    I believe that each person who complains about a situation or sees a need of some sort needs to roll up their sleeves and practice what they preach! ;) *I DARE YOU! :D