Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jul 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.


The announcement this week that Bangor will hold an informational
hearing about a planned methadone maintenance program here is a
positive sign in an issue that has produced a lot of debate but not a
lot of understanding. The City Council, Acadia Hospital, which would
operate the program, and state officials should use this opportunity
to turn what has been an acrimonious subject so far into something
helpful for the community. Discussion on the subject, often angry, has
mostly been on process - who was or was not informed, who gets to
influence the decision, what sort of local task force is needed, how
the effect on the city would be considered. Now, after several months,
it is time to move forward, time to begin acting like a community that
knows it has a serious problem in the abuse of heroin and other
opiates and is committed to doing something about it together. An
informational hearing is not a debate, not a place to say whether you
would vote in favor or against a methadone program. Instead, it is a
chance for state and local officials, doctors and other medical
experts to explain what such a program means, how it operates and why
it was proposed. It is a chance for city and hospital officials to set
out a background against which it can form a committee to dig into the
specifics of this issue. Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Duby is
expected to offer the state's perspective at the hearing, but local
ideas are needed, too. And law-enforcement officials, including those
from cities that already have methadone programs, would be a helpful
addition to the discussion.

Acadia Hospital and its parent, Eastern Maine Healthcare, have taken
quite a bit of heat on the issue without residents having a broader
perspective on methadone treatment and its alternatives. The hearing,
scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, at the Bangor Civic Center,
is a chance for the public to learn from hospital officials about the
need for the program and the details of how it might be carried out.

As important, it is a chance for Bangor to move beyond the poor
beginning this issue has been stuck in, get moving to help the
addicted and beat back a drug problem that is hurting too many.
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