Pubdate: Sat, 03 Apr 2004
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2004 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Methadone)


WATERVILLE - Waterville police say an increasing number of patients at
the Discovery House methadone clinic are being stopped for motor
vehicle violations just before or after their visits to the clinic.
"We've had several instances of people who have been stopped," said
Deputy Police Chief Joseph Massey. "They are taking it right there at
the clinic at six o'clock in the morning. It's a very high-potency

Scott Allen Gauthier, 34, was arrested this week after he reportedly
left the clinic and ran his car into a parked van near his home.
Massey said Gauthier had a 2-year-old passenger.

There also is a problem with patients on their way to the clinic,
Massey said. Some drive too fast because they want to get their dose
of methadone to ward off renewed cravings, he said.

Nancy Moore, program manager at Discovery House, said the doses
dispensed daily at Discovery House do not provide the patient with a
euphoric "high."

"Study after study after study has shown methadone doesn't produce any
cognitive dysfunction or impairment," Moore said. "They are not high.
They are not nodding out. They are not in any way impaired so they
can't drive."

She pointed to a report published by the Drug Policy Alliance, stating
that patients on a stabilized dose of methadone will not feel any more
drowsy or sedated than normal.

Moore said that if administered in a clinical setting, methadone does
not produce the highs and lows that would be felt with a street drug
such as heroin.

"Methadone doesn't work like that," she said. "You reach a
steady-state blood level with methadone."

Methadone is a government-regulated synthetic narcotic that heroin
addicts can use to control their cravings without having to get an
illegal "fix," Moore said. Clients are able to hold jobs and maintain
normal lives while continuing methadone treatment.

Based in Rhode Island, Discovery House opened a methadone clinic on
Bay Street in Winslow in August 1998. The clinic moved to Waterville
in February of this year. It serves about 220 opiate-addicted clients
a day from throughout central Maine, Moore said.

Waterville Police Detective David Caron, a certified drug-recognition
expert, said he ran tests on Gauthier and found him to be high on methadone.

"Absolutely," he said. "There is no doubt in my mind. It's a very potent

Massey said his department will be warning Discovery House officials
that patrols will increase in the area if the problem is not addressed.

"The issue is the danger they pose to the general public," he said.
"I'm not saying they are getting high and acting completely strange,
but it's their motor skills that are affected, their judgment, their
depth of perception and peripheral vision is off to some degree. That
makes them a dangerous driver."
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