Pubdate: Mon, 03 Jul 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Erica Morse, student at the University of Maine.


I must express my frustrations over the current debate regarding the 
implementation of a methadone maintenance clinic in Bangor. I am very 
disappointed with the political leaders of our community, who are seemingly 
willing to stop at nothing to keep a methadone treatment center out of 
Bangor. The wrong people are being allowed to make a very important 
decision, one that will have a great effect on the lives of many addicts 
and their families in our community.

The city sees addicts in Bangor as deviants and criminals - this is far 
from the truth.

I am a 20-year-old student, and although I have never conceded to the 
curiosity of heroin, it has become an important element in my life. Over 
the past two years, I have see many of my friends turn to drugs and I am 

Drugs make people lose control and responsibility over their lives.

Drugs distort a person's reality and perception, and have serious adverse 
affects on their social and familial interactions. Heroin is the ultimate 
drug. It changes people and it changes their priorities. I have seen it 
make a person lie, cheat and steal. I have seen it make people ''jones'' so 
hard they are shaking, sweating, crying, so emotionally distraught and 
physically pained that their body aches with craving for the drug.

Sadly, the only thing that will appease them is the injection of heroin 
through a needle in their vein - erasure of all pain. Strength and will is 
sometimes not enough to combat the physical cravings, and group therapy and 
counseling alone is not going to convince them to stop doing drugs.

One month ago, my friend died of a drug overdose.

I knew he was struggling with an addiction, but I didn't know how bad it 
really was. No one ever imagined it would ever happen to him; such a fun, 
loving, caring person, who was struggling with a personal addiction beyond 
his control. He said he wanted help and he knew he needed it, but was at 
the point where he could not see his way out and could not do it alone. He 
knew that methadone was an option, but was not educated and did not know 
how to use it. I believe if he had the alternative of rehabilitative 
methadone treatment in a controlled, fostered environment, he may have been 
able to get the help he needed, and live the life he deserved to live.

The circus debate over the methadone maintenance clinic is pulling the 
public's attention away from the true issue at hand; our community, our 
children need help, and there is a way for them to get it. We can't ignore 
the problem, disregard the addicts as hopeless, cross our fingers and pray 
that people will eventually see the error in their ways and try to change.

People who are addicted to drugs do want to change, but they physically cannot.

Heroin is here. Increasing police patrol and zero-tolerance laws are not 
going to stop people from doing heroin.

The people must be educated on methadone.

So far, the city and media are distracting the public by focusing on the 
controversy, not allowing the people to be rightfully informed about 
methadone maintenance treatment itself.

The city is painting a picture of addicts as monsters, who would flood the 
city with drugs and crime if a clinic were open. When proposed with the 
question of a methadone clinic attracting more dealers to the area, 
consider this thought: A choice between licensed meth-adone treatment, 
which would produce a high and calm the cravings with no withdrawal 
effects, or $30 for a bag of heroin and all that comes along with it. Which 
do you think people would choose?

If anything, it could drive the dealers away due to a decreased market size.

Many people do not understand the process of methadone maintenance, and are 
not being given the chance to learn.

The clinic would not be a free-for-all for every drug addict who wanted 
methadone, but an integrated process of rehabilitative therapy and physical 
treatment. Meth-adone prescriptions are indeed available now through 
private doctors in certain instances for pain control, but having bottles 
of methadone on the street is not going to help the issue of drug 
availability in our community - it just adds to the cocktail.

At a methadone maintenance clinic, prescriptions for methadone will not 
just be handed out; patients will be expected to come to the clinic on a 
daily basis to receive their treatment on-site.

Methadone is not the end-all conclusion to the heroin epidemic by any 
means, but is a small and very important piece of the treatment process. 
Through methadone maintenance, the window of hope and reality may be opened 
a little more each day, giving the addict greater clarity to see what needs 
to be done and the strength to do it.
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