The fewer the clinics, the better

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Chilton County Treatment Center, a proposed methadone clinic to be built in south Clanton, still does not exist.

Former Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts, a fair hearing officer appointed by the State Health Planning and Development Agency’s Certificate of Need Board, ruled that GASKH Corp. cannot build the facility here. Butts’ decision upheld a previous ruling by the board in November 2007.

That same year, Susan Staats Sidwell, owner of the Shelby County Treatment Center in Saginaw, filed the initial request with the board to have a methadone treatment facility in Clanton.

The Shelby office uses liquid methadone to treat patients addicted to certain drugs. Methadone clinics are controversial wherever they go because of what they bring with them to a community. While they are intended to help people break their addictions, the drug they administer is very addictive in itself.

Methadone is rarely found to be the lone culprit in overdose cases, but it is often lethally combined with other drugs. Granted, the methadone used in these cases can come from many sources, such as when prescription drugs are abused, but the thought of bringing more of this substance into our community is unsettling for most people.

The presence of such a facility here could potentially bring more drugs to the area simply because there would be more people traveling through our county with drug addictions.

We are not saying that a clinic could never help anyone with a drug problem, and we are certainly not trying to deny anyone from receiving help.

In a perfect world, a methadone treatment facility might just be the answer for many people. Of course, in a truly perfect world, there would be no need for one. But the risk of abuse just seems too great.

In the eyes of our district attorney, the fair hearing officer who denied this appeal, and many community leaders, the disadvantages of a methadone clinic far outweigh the advantages. We tend to agree.