Roanoke methadone clinic is no problem.

When I lived in the New River Valley a couple of years ago, I witnessed the hue and cry over the planned establishment of a methadone clinic in Roanoke, by way of my subscription to the Roanoke Times. This private clinic would treat OxyContin and heroin addicts seeking to kick the habit, and be located in a mixed-use, primarily residential area. The letters to the editor poured in fast and furious. These people were absolutely convinced that it would, quite simply, be the end of Roanoke. The automobile traffic would be overwhelming. Junkies would show up firing guns. Children would be kidnapped by pedophiles. Cats would be sleeping with dogs, etc., etc.

I railed about this to whoever would listen, wrote letters to the papers, and wrote a paper about it for a class. This kind of thinking is insanity. I would happily live next door to a methadone clinic. Their customers are people seeking to kick the habit — they’re individuals who are responsible and (becoming) in control of their lives. They’re not dangerous. And heroin addicts aren’t poor folks — it’s a rich man’s drug. Heroin addicts are our neighbors, our cousins, our friends. The methadone clinic, if built, would have zero impact on the neighborhood.

Well, it got built and, a year later, the results are in. Crime went down in the neighborhood. Former opponents to the clinic now say that they don’t often notice it’s there anymore.

A lawsuit remains in the courts to force the clinic to shut down, but it seems a little silly now.

We’ve got a drug problem in this nation. It’s not helped by preventing clinics from opening for reasons of FUD, and it’s not helped by demonizing addicts. They’re regular people, looking to help themselves. Let them.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

2 replies on “Roanoke methadone clinic is no problem.”

  1. I know the feeling about Methadone clinic protests. Last year there was a plan to place a methadone clinic near my school (also near the head of a high-priced subdivision full of Bristol’s richest folks). Their argument was “it will be dangerous to the school’s students” (even though a friend of mine and I talked to a well-versed biology tracher who said it was a great idea and likely wouldn’t affect us at all), while the real reason was mostly that it would have decreased the property value of the subdivision.
    Final result: Clinic blocked; OxyContin is still a HUGE problem in Bristol and Washington County.
    People are unbelievable sometimes…

  2. Overall, I prefer having the Colonial Downs OTB located in Weber City to the methadone clininc that had people up in arms all over the county last year, but that’s likely just my ‘choice of sin.’*

    I’m curious in knowing what other factors contributed to the crime rate drop you mentioned. While I can see the headline – “Clininc In, Crime Down” – I can’t see the the direct cause-effect, and would have to wonder: did police patrols increase in the area because of the presence of the clinic? Any new citizens watch groups active? What were the crime stats for areas immediately adjacent during the same period? Have other areas with methadone clinics reported similar results? What did the meth clinic displace, if anything?

    It’s worth looking into: the meth clinic debate will hit Scott County again in 2006.

    *This is a reference to a news editorial that ran in the Kingsport Times-News after the referendum vote on the OTB: “Once Again, Scott County Leads The Way In Legal Sin”

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