Category Archives: NIMBY

CRC Health Group to Receive $495,000

feature4bAn article in Maine’s Bangor Daily News outlines a case recently decided in which the Town of Warren, Maine was found to have adopted an ordinance that was ruled discriminatory and in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

CRC Health Group had been fighting to open a methadone clinic in Warren to provide treatment services to those struggling with the disease of opioid addiction. However, the town of Warren had opposed this initiative for several years. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Nivison approved an agreement in which the town of Warren will pay $495,000 to CRC Health Group to drop its lawsuit.

CRC offers a variety of behavioral health treatment programs around the country and has a special focus in opioid addiction services utilizing medication-assisted treatment like methadone and buprenorphine.

Maine has a substantial opiate addiction problem and is in need of more resources for those individuals stuck in the vicious cycle of opiate addiction and withdrawal.

Historically, there have been other similar cases in which town planning boards attempted to oppose the construction of a local methadone clinic. This is commonly referred to as NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). However, denying people ready access to a needed medical service appears to come with serious financial repercussions.

For More: A Message To The Community

Suboxone Benefits Overshadowed By Fear and Judgment of Bangor City Council

progressSuboxone is medically approved to treat opioid addiction and withdrawal in the United States, and opioid replacement therapy is a documented, evidence-based best practice. That being said, the city council of Bangor, Maine voted 7-2 against the expansion of opioid treatment services in Bangor that would allow existing treatment programs to offer additional Suboxone (buprenorphine) services to addicted people seeking treatment.

Council members were quoted as saying that Bangor had done more than its fair share of helping the addicted population, referencing the fact that many people travel from outside the area to participate in one of Bangor’s three opioid treatment programs.

This moratorium on expanding Suboxone will leave many to struggle with their severe addictions while viable opioid treatment services could be made available to help them. However, the Council wanted more time to consider whether the expansion of opioid treatment would be a good idea for the city. The temporary ban generated considerable dissension once again showcasing that fear & judgment are still barriers to treating people suffering with addictive disorders.

Progress has most definitely been made over many years with the nationwide adoption of opioid replacement therapy. Nonetheless, people continue to fear and judge those things which they do not understand. Simply put, this is human nature. I reflect on past years in which family members and other non-treatment professionals came to visit our facilities, became acquainted with our staff, and gained a real understanding as to what treatment is about.

Consistently, nearly all of these individuals experienced a change of heart and a new understanding. Some of them never considered that addiction would affect their family. Understanding addiction is something that a majority of individuals may not care to understand … until they have to. This, too, is human nature.

In any event, progress often has a way of moving forward despite impediments and naysayer opposition. If the need is there, then energy will collect and eventually be channeled toward fulfilling that need. Suboxone and methadone are such excellent medications when used appropriately. They meet an important need. It’s sad to say, but sometimes a problem has to “hit home” before a person comes to a new understanding.

The five Bangor Council members that voted against expanding Suboxone may have never faced addiction, or the loss of a loved one, or the desperate fear & pain that an addict lives with after years of being sick. One can’t help but question the motivations and “critical thinking” of people who would vote against modern medicine and saving lives. Progress will continue, but closed minds must first be opened.

Anti-Methadone Sentiment Not Rooted in Reality

methadone52In browsing articles on current methadone treatment, I came across a brief one in the United Kingdom’s Daily Record specifically from the Scottish news section. The article contained a number of derogatory quotes (in regard to methadone) from Scotland’s Maxie Richards. Ms. Richards runs a foundation for addicted people in recovery.

One quote from Ms. Richards pertaining to methadone included: “To me it represents a hopeless road, a road to nowhere.” Another comment was “I think it is such a waste to let young people spend years on methadone because we don’t think there’s any hope for them.” Ms. Richards is openly critical of the government’s support of methadone treatment programs.

Her words “a hopeless road” are not a fitting description of the life enhancing benefits of methadone in treating addiction. To the contrary, methadone is often the single most beneficial intervention for someone struggling with opioid addiction. In my experience, any addiction professional who is categorically against methadone is revealing a lack of education on evidence-based treatments, and is merely expressing an unsubstantiated personal bias that is easily refuted.

Today, a former client made a surprise visit to our clinic. She had been in methadone treatment with our agency for a little over 4 years and had come off of methadone one year ago. Today, standing in our lobby, she was full of life, smiling, and enthusiastically talking about how well things were going in her life. She said that methadone had been instrumental in saving her life. Since leaving treatment, she had remained completely drug free, was full-time employed, enjoying positive relationships with her family. And she looked wonderful, very healthy, and had a beautiful complexion.

Was her methadone treatment a “hopeless road’? Absolutely not! She, and we, knew that it was a bridge to a better life. She had originally arrived at our clinic beat down, lost in addiction, hopeless, and desperate for an answer after having tried everything she knew of to get clean and sober. Choosing methadone and counseling worked for her. I wonder what Ms. Richards might think if she had the chance to see and to speak with our former client today? Results speak for themselves. Methadone programs save lives and provide a deeply desired new opportunity. True, not all methadone programs are the same. Some are better than others.

Hope … is what many addicted people find when they begin dosing with methadone. Relief … from painful opioid withdrawal symptoms is what they feel. Gratitude … is what they express for a new start in life. And eventually happiness. Which is what our former client had come to share with us on this day.

Methadone Treatment Clients Aim For Better Lives

methadone-recoveryI just read a news article about a proposed methadone clinic that is being met with community resistance, this time in Dade County, Georgia. The county is located in the northwestern tip of the state, and would provide treatment to people living in north Georgia, southern Tennessee, and northeastern Alabama.

Somewhat disturbing were several comments by readers of the article in which the proposed clinic was forecasted to be harmful to the community. One person wrote that clinics “do not help people”, and another writer stated that the clinic “would bring more unsavory characters into the county.”

A second article on the Dade County clinic, with an accompanying news video, showed an interview with a local store manager in a neighboring county. This store manager is located across the street from an existing methadone clinic. In the interview, the man said “Keep you eyes open and your ears open and watch out for people … because that (methadone) is some bad stuff.” The TV interviewer then asked the man had he observed any problems related to the clinic’s operation and he responded “I’ve not noticed any real bad things or anything happening around here.” He then goes on to say later in the interview “They’re (methadone clients) not causing any trouble.”

The TV interviewer for News Channel 9 also added that a number of local people she had interviewed for the piece (who did not want to appear on camera) confirmed that the clinic “had not had a negative impact on the area.”

This exemplifies the irrational fear & unjustified public condemnation of methadone that is often the norm in small communities. The reality is that the store owner referenced above had not seen anything troubling (per his own account), and the others interviewed said the clinic had brought no negative impact to the area. Think about that.

These community members, many of whom are obviously harboring unwarranted fears and suspicions, would most likely change their opinion of methadone clinics & methadone clients if they could simply meet them. The condemnation of those we do not know is an age-old problem, as are hate, harsh judgment, and fear of the unknown.

Discrimination is something that Americans have faced before. Discrimination against addicted people seeking help is sort of odd logic. Most people seem to believe that addiction is something far away and removed from their communities and their lives. But it isn’t.

Importantly, methadone maintenance blocks the effects of other opiates, stops withdrawal sickness, helps addicted people feel better emotionally, and allows them to go to work, raise their families, pay their mortgage, and become productive again. That clinic across the street is not a drug haven. It is a place where people, with good intentions and genuine hope, begin to reclaim their lives. They’re willing to step onto a new path leading to a drug free life. Is this really so terrible?

Never Give Up On Yourself

methadone39I had the pleasant good fortune of seeing a former client the other day who had entered methadone treatment for his opiate addiction about 7 years ago. I remember him struggling for the first 2 years with relapses (mostly to cocaine, not opiates) and our clinic offering a variety of different treatments to help him get on track.

Due to a string of drug tests always positive for illicit substances, we were critically close to detoxing him from our methadone program. As you might imagine, he was a daily prisoner in his addiction and the pieces of the recovery puzzle were just not connecting yet in a way that worked for him.

As a last chance run in formal treatment, he attended a Day Treatment program that we offered which provided group and individual counseling, psycho-educational classes, and activity therapy Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 3:30 pm. It was at this time that he obtained his first clean drug test. This first success led to a second clean test, and then a third.

I remember believing in this person's sincerity. He wanted to change, and he needed the unconditional support of others who were not willing to give up on him … even when he was close to giving up on himself. Toward the end of treatment, there was a noticeable shift in his sense of hope. He had come to believe that recovery was possible for him. And where he used to see only a dead end, he now saw a light on the path just ahead of him getting brighter and brighter with each passing day.

When we sat and talked the other day, he was celebrating 5 uninterrupted years of recovery – no drugs, no probation, no jail, no longer financially destitute. He continues to take methadone and has enjoyed an ever-improving life in which he is meeting personal goals including: employment, home ownership, and the ability to care for his sickly, aging father. This is a great source of pride for the client being able to care for his father. It's a commitment he keeps every single day. Recovery, via methadone assistance and counseling, made this possible.

I am reminded how easy it is to judge addicted people, and to give up on them. But there is a reality that we must never forget. And it is that a suffering addict may be just one step away from turning the corner and passing through that doorway into a new life of recovery. We must not extinguish that dim light, that glimmer of hope, that helps people hold on just one more day. Recovery is always possible. As a counselor, I learned a long time ago that you cannot predict who will make it, or when. Never should we be so presumptuous or jaded.

Never give up! I believe in that. Congratulations to all of those who are still trying. Recovery may be closer than you think.

Methadone Treatment Benefits Many

methadoneclientsThe amount of misinformation that is circulated in regard to methadone is pretty astounding. Methadone is truly one of the most well-researched addiction treatment medications in history, and is widely accepted as the most efficacious opioid addiction treatment ever.

Today, I reviewed a number of videos on YouTube based on the search word "methadone", and found a plethora of wild rants, exaggerations, and obvious paranoia … often expressed by local community citizens who seemed determined to prevent a methadone clinic from operating in their locale. I wonder how many of these people would feel that way if it were their daughter that needed the clinic, or their best friend.

As an addiction treatment professional who has witnessed firsthand methadone's dramatic life changing benefits, I can only shake my head at the irrational beliefs, and mean-spirited condemnation, held by everyday people. Many of these folks seem to have good intentions, but suffer from phenomenal ignorance on the topic of addiction & addiction treatment. Methadone stabilizes individuals physically, provides a means for dealing with one's addictive disease, and offers tremendous opportunity for moving forward in life and regaining one's sense of hope.

Many of our agency's clients hold professional positions, have become top moms & dads, and live peaceful, responsible lives. This is not hyperbole, it's reality. Receiving methadone for these individuals is no different than taking a daily pill for a health condition. And the majority are identical to anyone else that you might encounter on a daily basis.

Some methadone treatment clients are satisfied to simply tread water (which is far better than drowning in one's addiction). Perhaps their overriding goal was to just avoid withdrawal sickness, and they weren't aiming for much more than that. Fortunately, they are alive, are no longer committing crime, and they no longer feel driven to desperate measures to feed an opiate addiction. There is considerable value in this type of lifestyle change which reflects more a Harm Reduction level of benefit.

Harm reduction is an approach which allows an addicted person to reduce their exposure to risky addiction lifestyle practices. Effective harm reduction for an individual also yields harm reduction for the surrounding community as well. A no brainer.

So whether one's methadone treatment participation leads to dramatic improvements, or merely small life changes, the sum gain is nearly always positive. Methadone treatment benefits many. This is the reality. With society's judgment often being harsh, it's no wonder that methadone clients are reluctant to step forward publicly. If critics could see personal & up close the methadone client they fear, a wonderful positive shift could occur, and both methadone clients & methadone treatment more readily embraced. We are on our way to this new destination, one client at a time. (read more on community acceptance)