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Do methadone clinics bring crime to communities?

on Tuesday, 19 June 2012. Posted in Breaking News, Methadone

Do methadone clinics bring crime to communities?

A methadone clinic has residents of a Toronto neighborhood divided. Located in the area of St. Clair Ave and Dufferin Street, the clinic serves to help addicts trying to kick opiate addictions. However, some feel that the clinic is the source of unpleasant and unwanted behavior.

The area’s Councillor, Cesar Palacio, spoke out on the issue saying “This clinic is an uncontrollable operation that is getting out of hand and they aren’t taking responsibility for what’s going on outside.”

Some issues of concern include aggressive panhandling, loitering, and even an influx of needles at the nearby McDonalds. In fact, the McDonalds has went on to install sharps containers in their restrooms.

Dr. Robert Cooper, who operates the clinic, sees the situation much differently. He feels that the clinic is being linked to unrelated civic problems.

“In my mind, responsible leadership would be to explain to people the need for programs and the fact there is an overall benefit to the community,” said Cooper.

When asked about the clinic’s relationship to crime in the area, Staff Sgt. Mike Matic, who works with the community response unit, said “There have been some crimes in that area, but to say they’re related to the clinic is unfounded.”

Toronto police do not report any increase in crime since the clinic was opened.

Palacio says that the clinic is taking on more than 150 patients per day, which is more than they can handle. However, the clinic reports seeing 30 to 100 patients per day and says the amount can be easily handled by their 7 doctors.

With more than 5,000 people in treatment across Toronto, even Palacio agrees that the clinics serve a crucial role to the community. However, the clinics don’t always receive a warm welcome from area Councillors.

Pam McConnell is one of the members speaking out against clinics opening in her ward. In a community meeting last year, McConnell voiced her concerns on the issue. She explained that the clinic was not needed in the neighborhood and that “it is the wrong model of service.”

Not only does McConnell oppose the clinics opening in her ward, she is pushing to open up an investigation of the clinic’s business practices.

Dr. Clement Sun, medical director for Addiction Centre Toronto said “Behind the scenes, politicians privately support us, but they can’t tell anybody because they have to get voted in.”

While Palacio feels the clinic is creating problems in the community, Cooper feels the clinic serves a purpose. The two have had ongoing talks and hope to reach a compromise.

Cooper went on to say, “The reality is people coming into treatment find gainful employment and are contributing to society.”

It is no secret that methadone clinics bring money to the community by providing addicts with methadone, as opposed to them buying opiates off the street. But do they also bring unwanted crimes to the communities they serve?

If you, or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact us.

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