Pubdate: Tue, 12 Jun 2001
Source: Rutland Herald (VT)
Copyright: 2001 Rutland Herald
Author: Peter Cooper


I note with alarm that several persons in the community are circulating a 
petition barring the opening of a methadone clinic at the Rutland Regional 
Medical Center. They seem to be inspired (in part) by a number of doctors 
associated with the hospital who have also submitted a petition condemning 
the clinic.

Some years ago when I was in the alcohol treatment field, my director and I 
presented an education session on alcohol abuse and treatment to a number 
of local doctors at the hospital. It was one of the most difficult seminars 
we had ever put on (among the scores we presented throughout the county). 
The doctors were rude and inattentive and acted as though we had no right 
to be there. One MD was heard to whisper to a companion (in responding to 
solutions to problem drinking) to "buy 'em more booze."

Lately, the RRMC has been running a series of expensively produced 
television ads depicting the virtues of their institution. At a recent 
meeting held by the hospital regarding the methadone clinic, I was amazed 
and gratified to see the many programs available for treatment of substance 
abusers. My question: Are the doctors that oppose the clinic part of this 
care? Will they refuse to treat the suffering heroin addict? Or do they 
admit there is a problem at all?

The folks in the community who are circulating that petition are suffering 
from the same blindness. Drug addiction is not just a problem for the 
individual. It is a community problem, and we as a community need to deal 
with it. Ten years ago, heroin was not a problem in Rutland. Now it is. 
Prevention and education play a role, but full treatment is the best 
prevention. The methadone clinic along with a pantheon of other treatments 
are the best bulwark against this dread disease.

It is ironic that the MDs and community folks who oppose this clinic would 
be the first in line to demand the very latest in treatments, were they 
faced with a dangerous illness. Why deny this highly effective treatment 
that calms the addict's storms and makes him and her amenable to other help?

These are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our own 
people. Sure, let's put Rutland First by putting its citizens first. I knew 
what it was to be trapped in an alcoholic hell and what it was like to have 
caring people around to bring me out. We can do no less for those who still 

Peter Cooper

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