Hey Pasadena, it’s a methadone clinic, not a meth lab

| February 4, 2015 | 15 Comments

Methadone-006UPDATE: Anne Arundel County Councilman, Derek Fink, has advised that he had a conversation with Smith who agreed to not move forward with the clinic at the Hogs Neck location. Fink said he’d work with Smith to find a more suitable location.

Annapolis, Severna Park, and South County no longer have the lock on the NIMBY Award for Anne Arundel County. Pasadena has moved right up in the rankings with their recent opposition to a proposed methadone clinic, Just A Little Help, scheduled to open in a shopping center on Hogs Neck Road. State Delegate Nic Kipke and County Councilman Derek Fink have both come out against the clinic. Methadone is an opiate that is used to treat addiction including heroin. Methadone is also a drug that can be abused; but the treatment can be likened to a flu shot–you are injected with the flu virus in order to fight off the flu virus. Methdaone is a liquid that is ingested in the view of the clinic nurse; patients will drink it mixed with water.

The argument that the neighborhood is making is that the presence of addicts will devalue properties and drive existing businesses out of business. Really? First of all, it’s a clinic–a medically supervised, Federally registered health care center. It is not a meth lab in someone’s basement. Secondly, are the people suffering from addiction that are seeking help more of a threat than the addicts that are not seeking help and are actually living in the neighborhood?  As one of our Twitter followers said this morning, addicts are not werewolves.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has recognized that heroin is a serious health problem in the County. We are experiencing a death a week from the drug.  Why would someone object to a facility to help with that problem?

Yesterday, Councilman Derek Fink posted to his Facebook page that the County had issues a “Stop Work Order” on the clinic; when, if fact, the stop work order was for the unit next to the clinic. (UPDATE:  The SWO was indeed for the clinic; however, it was inadvertently posted on the wrong door yesterday)

As with most projects based on fear, the opposition has taken on a life of it’s own based on fear and conjecture. In an email sent to Eye On Annapolis, we were asked if we wanted a methodone clinic in the middle of our neighborhood. The answer is “no.” But if they wanted to put it out on the main thoroughfare in the strip center, that’d be perfectly fine by us. Let’s take a look. The center is immediately next to a 7-Eleven, down the street from a bar, and around the corner from a storage facility and a boat repair and storage business.  To be fair, there is a small neighborhood across the street from the shopping center, but a 4-lane roadway separates them.

meth

We spoke to Noel Smith, the man who is opening the clinic. He is a neighbor–an Anne Arundel County resident for more than a decade. He did the homework required by the State and based on the existing crime reports, the area could use a little help.  In an article in The Capital, one of the opposition leaders, Jim Schuler, claims that restaurants in the center will go out of business if the clinic opens.

He predicts the restaurants in the shopping center will go out of business if there’s a methadone clinic next door.

He also cites his experience with the Baltimore City Police Department when he says that you will not see crime go down when a methadone clinic opens. The implication is that it will increase.  However, a University of Maryland School of Medicine study conducted in the very City where he was an officer on the drug task force, refutes that claim.

Smith told us that from the outside, the business will look like any of the other ones in the center. There will be no signage indicating the clinic treats addictions (including methadone). He plans to have 2 drug counselors on staff at all times, a hypnotherapist, and an acupuncturist to enable him to treat all  addictions. From the outside and the inside, the business will look like any typical doctor’s office. Smith said that he has a waiting list of 30 people from the area that are waiting for him to open because the new location will be more convenient than the existing clinics in Glen Burnie and Brooklyn Park.

So, what is the issue? Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown. Perhaps it is ignorance. Would the neighborhood object if a pediatric medical clinic opened in the same spot? Are kids with runny noses more entitled to care than someone struggling with addiction? Instead of taking a NIMBY approach to a scourge of the County; does it not make more sense to embrace someone that is legally trying to  help?  After all, if Smith and Just A Little Help is successful in treating all of the drug addictions that plague the area, they will be out of business of their own doing.

But for now, the neighbors will gather their pitchforks and brooms and march on the Eastern District Police Station tonight to oppose a business that is trying to open in Anne Arundel County to do some good.

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About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.