Calgary Methadone Clinic Struggles to Find a Home

The Second Chance Recovery Center in Calgary Alberta, treats 500 clients with methadone. It offers addiction treatment counseling to methadone patients, and claims an 85 percent success rate.

The clinic has had difficulties in the past finding a home from which to provide its services, and these troubles continue today: The clinic staff is facing an eviction order for the end of June.

  • Neighborhood pressure forced two previous moves and now pressure from the Highland Park Community Association is forcing a third.
  • The community association complained to the Subdivision and Development Board about the methadone clinic's presence in an area that is not zoned for medical services.
  • The board ruled on the side of the community association, and has given the clinic until the end of June to vacate the premises.

Clinic Director Bill Leslie said that clinic officials have a couple of new locations in mind -- but this time (in an effort to prevent future problems) Leslie plans on working with the new community to garner goodwill and support prior to making an announcement.

One recently proposed clinic site drew controversy for its proximity to a childcare center.

Calgary Alderman Andre Chabot, who publicly objected to moving the clinic close to a children's center, said that although 85 percent of methadone patients may be doing "what's right," the remaining 15 can cause considerable concern.

Dr. Mat Rose, an Edmonton doctor who prescribes methadone, is familiar with the controversy that surrounds these medical clinics. Though a methadone clinic can attract drug dealers, Dr. Rose said, these clinics also tend to reduce area crime rates by providing treatment to people who would otherwise use expensive street drugs.

Calgary police say that methadone clinics within the city do not influence crime rates either up or down.

Although the clinic has drawn the ire of Alderman Chabot, at least one city politician, Alderman Dianne Colley-Urquhart, supports the clinic and has said that she is going to talk to others on city council to see what can be done, before 500 people who need methadone treatment stop getting it.

"People think that those who go on methadone are bums, are homeless, are alcoholics, are drug addicts, are unemployed and all of those stereotypical attitudes," said Colley-Urquhart, a nurse by training. "My experience is that [these stereotypes] couldn't be further from the truth."

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