The hypocrisy of NIMBY laws: Methadone clinics

About a year ago, South Park was up in arms, as were the people at Daybreak and Chaminade Juliane High School. A local doctor wanted to open a Methadone clinic nearby. Quickly, a law was passed at the Statehouse that turned recovering heroin addicts into sex-offenders- placing a 500′ limit from door-to-door from addict to school. The laws labeling sex offenders for life and imposing ridiculous barriers on where they live is unfair and it is unproven that it does anything except give these people a life sentence. There is no proof that 500 magically cuts down on sex offenses- (for the record- most of the sex offenders knew the people they molested and weren’t randomly picking people off the street).

As to methadone clinics, some, like Project Cure  have been in operation for decades, and yet you’ve never heard of their clients going postal at a nearby school- or robbing people at gunpoint. The whole point is that these are people trying to stop being addicts and to get healthy.

Yesterday, I talked with both Virgil McDaniel of Project Cure, whom I’ve known for over 25 years (he was Deputy Chief of the Dayton Police Department before he took over at Project Cure) and  Superintendent Lori Ward at Dayton Public Schools, who along with the School board voted to put the kibosh on Project Cure moving to Elizabeth Place because of its proximity to Ponitz Career Tech School. I was hoping to mediate the rift and allow Project Cure to move in, because they’ve already put $160,000+ in renovations and are now being held for the remainder of their lease- another $860,000 by the property owners.

Ward asked if CJ would take them, or if the clinic could move down south, since that’s where Project Cure said many of their clients come from. McDaniel is appealing to the state, claiming the measurement is wrong- it’s from door to door, not property line to property line. None of it matters though, a newcomer is going to be helping the addicts out of Elizabeth place and your tax dollars will be supporting it, and Ms. Ward and the School board aren’t going to be able to say no:

›Samaritan Behavioral Health Inc., a Dayton nonprofit offering community behavioral health services, is being awarded approximately $465,000 in public dollars to start medication-assisted treatment services with Suboxone in September at its Elizabeth Place offices, 601 Edwin C. Moses Blvd., Dayton. Samaritan will offer free services to people who have no insurance coverage.

More clinics open to battle drug epidemic

The difference is the State law doesn’t like the cheap methadone, but is ok with the expensive suboxone. Sort of like you go to prison longer if you get caught with crack instead of powdered cocaine.

There is a difference between the drugs according to the DDN:

Methadone and Suboxone are U.S.-government approved drugs to wean people off opiates such as heroin or pain medications. Methadone and Suboxone curb drug cravings and help them with withdrawal symptoms, said Brad DeCamp, with the office of the medical director of Ohio Dept. of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

Suboxone is not as heavily regulated and considered by experts to be safer than methadone because people who take it have less risk of overdose, DeCamp said. Suboxone is a relatively new treatment approved in 2002 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating opiate dependencies.

A form of Suboxone that dissolves on the patient’s tongue, similar to breath freshener strips, is approved for use in Ohio.

Methadone, a red liquid, works best for high level addictions, and those with a long history of heroin use, DeCamp said.

Addiction to opiates can be deadly. Experts say the abuse of narcotics stems from the growing availability of prescription medicines. As the state has worked to better control access to painkillers, use of heroin has risen in southwest Ohio.

The war on drugs has been failing for decades, and now, we’re engaged in a new war against drug treatment centers. Once again, the State is picking the winners and losers:

Samaritan Behavioral Health is preparing to offer new medication-assisted services starting in September at its offices in the medical office building Elizabeth Place on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard.

Samaritan Behavioral is being awarded approximately $465,000 from the ADAMHS Board for Montgomery County to offer the services, said Sue McGatha, Samaritan president and CEO. The contract is not yet final. Unlike the other clinics, Samaritan Behavioral’s services are a pilot program targeting people with no insurance or Medicaid coverage.

The $465,000 would cover costs of medication, staffing, laboratory testing and a naloxone kit distribution program (a drug used by first responders for overdoses). Services will be free to patients during the pilot program, which runs until June 2014.

Samaritan Behavioral, affiliated with Good Samaritan Hospital, will administer Suboxone treatment to patients during an induction phase, keeping limited drug supplies on the premises, McGatha said. After patients finish the initial induction phase, Samaritan plans to prescribe Suboxone to them.

The program has space for 100 patients.

Why is Project Cure getting the hassles? Maybe because the people who run it, forgot to pay for the political campaigns run by the people who pass the laws? We already know that the top executives at Premier Health Partners donated big bucks to the Whaley primary campaign. Why else would the time tested and proven experts at treating addiction be given the boot from the same building, while the new startup not only gets the OK but a $465,000 handout?

Project Cure, treating 650 to 700 clients per day, also is expanding services in the next 30 days to offer Suboxone in addition to methadone. Plans are to administer the drug on-site.

In the meantime, Project Cure continues its search for a better location. The clinic’s application to operate a methadone clinic at Elizabeth Place was turned down in June by the state based on new state law restricting some drug treatment programs from locating within a 500-foot radius of a public or private school, licensed day care center, or other child-serving agency. The state law restricting locations of methadone clinics does not apply to Suboxone, the brand name of the drugs buprenorphine combined with naloxone.

Having faced unwelcoming neighborhoods, buildings with environmental issues and the new state law, Project Cure is changing its relocation strategy.

“We’re looking for land. We want to build,” McDaniel said.

If I sound like a conspiracy theorist, so be it, but how can the same building be OK for one clinic and not OK for another? What is the definition of 500 feet? And do addicts treated with suboxone somehow become less dangerous of an addict?

How much longer is Premier Health Care going to get to manipulate our government, redesign our streets, and put their junkie treatment center where ever they want and get paid to do it, while others get the shaft?

Answer: as long as we let them.

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