Pubdate: Wed, 06 Jul 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Bookmark: (Methadone)


MIDDLESBORO (AP) -- Residents are expected to learn this week whether a 
methadone clinic will be allowed to open in their southeastern Kentucky town.

The State Narcotics Authority will meet Friday in Frankfort to consider the 

Dr. Ronald Dubin, head of Middlesboro Against Drugs, said he expects 
several hundred people opposed to the proposed clinic to drive to Frankfort 
to attend the meeting.

Middlesboro residents are upset because the proposed clinic would be within 
three blocks of two schools and because residents weren't told about plans 
for it, Dubin said. Residents didn't find out about the clinic until its 
owners had a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"I have a feeling other applications are pending out there where the 
communities are not aware of it," he said.

Some 300 people, many carrying anti-methadone placards, protested against 
the proposed clinic outside Middlesboro City Hall in June.

Mac Bell, who oversees methadone clinics for the Kentucky Cabinet for 
Health and Family Services, said the opposition to the Middlesboro clinic 
has been overwhelming.

"This is the first time in my history that we have had such a public 
outcry, and I've been doing this for 22 years," he said last month.

Dubin said he fears a methadone clinic would make Middlesboro a magnet for 
addicts from other parts of central Appalachia, including southwestern 
Virginia, which currently is under a state-imposed moratorium on new 
methadone clinics.

For some communities, methadone was a welcome alternative to OxyContin, 
which drug addicts crushed and snorted or mixed with water and injected to 
get the same kind of euphoric high that heroin brings. In the past five 
years, clinics have opened without opposition in five eastern Kentucky 
towns and seven West Virginia towns.

When used for treatment of addiction, methadone can be dispensed only in 
the special clinics.

A dose once a day from one of the 1,100 clinics now operating in the United 
States helps addicts escape their cravings for illegal drugs and avoid 
withdrawal symptoms. Although patients do not get high when they use the 
drug properly, they do become dependent on it.

Barbara Smith, co-owner of the proposed Middlesboro clinic, said it could 
initially serve up to 120 clients who are trying to kick drug addiction.

Smith said the clinic is badly needed in the Middlesboro area because of 
the widespread addiction to painkillers like OxyContin. Addicts now have to 
drive more than two hours roundtrip to the nearest methadone clinic, which 
is in Corbin.
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