Pubdate: Fri, 02 Apr 2004
Source: Bristol Herald Courier (VA)
Copyright: 2004 Bristol Herald Courier
Author: Jay Clarke
Bookmark: (Methadone)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


I am responding to the recent article, "Zoning may restrict more than just 
methadone clinics."

In it, psychologist Chris Qualls states, "Would we do that to a cardiac 
rehabilitation facility? Of course we wouldn't. We see people with cardiac 
problems as being normal, when the fact is more people will suffer a major 
depressive episode this year than will have a heart attack."

He also said those with mental illness or mental retardation are already 
stigmatized and the new ordinance will only make that worse.

The same reasons the new opponents give for the law being discriminatory 
apply to those needing methadone treatment.

Many are quick to blame addiction on the person's choices. However, the 
same can be said for many who suffer from heart disease, adult-onset 
diabetes and other health problems. Due to behavior and choices made, 
people begin to suffer from a variety of diseases.

Just as a cardiac rehabilitation center treats heart patients, methadone 
treatment centers treat those suffering from opiate addiction.

Leslie Anderson, of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental 
Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, says, "the restriction may run 
afoul of the federal Fair Housing Act, which outlaws housing discrimination 
based on disability."

Those suffering from the disease of addiction are covered under the same 
anti-discriminatory legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 
Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Act. In other states, zoning laws 
such as this have been reversed in court when challenged by methadone 
treatment providers.

Misinformation, ignorance and fear are the driving forces that lead to the 
stigma and discrimination mentioned in this article. We all need to speak 
out for what is right and not just pick and choose treatment modalities we 
personally support. This zoning law is clear-cut discrimination against all 
of those who are mentally ill, mentally retarded or suffering from the 
disease of addiction.

Jay Clarke, Norfolk, Va
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