Generally, neighborhood residents in the Baltimore area do not want methadone clinics in their communities. They see the clinics as breeding places for crime and loitering. But their arguments are rarely backed with statistics. A new study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, however, is backed with statistics and those stats say apprehensive community members may be wrong.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the study is the first of its kind, looking at the link between crime and methadone users.
It analyzed FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data from the Baltimore Police Department, looking closely at crime surrounding 13 different methadone clinics. The study focused on a two year period and compared those areas with the clinics to similar areas without clinics. What they found was that there was no relationship between methadone clinics and increased crime.
“I think there is still a very bad perception of methadone clinics,” said the University’s Dr. Susan Boyd. “There are many more people out there who need treatment, but there are not enough slots and clinics available, and part of it is because of the community stereotypes they have about methadone clinics.”
Methadone is a prescription drug used to ward off the cravings for opiates like heroin. By using methadone, users can avoid heroin withdrawals. While some say this is simply trading one addiction for another, others argue that methadone is not nearly the drug that heroin is.
Neighbors of the clinics see patients as drug abusers and this colors their perception of the clinic and activities surround them.
Joel Prell, operator of a Pikesville methadone clinic says he believes that residents are scared of the clinics due to misconceptions. “It’s the fear of the unknown and stereotypes. What most people don’t understand about drug treatment programs is that it works.”
At least one methadone user interviewed for the Baltimore Sun admits that before methadone, he would rob to support his heroin habit. The 73-year old methadone user says that he stopped committing crimes when he began methadone treatment.
Drug addiction is a serious battle waged by many people within the city of Baltimore, some of them come out triumphant and others don’t. For many, drugs are the gateway into the criminal justice system. Some of these people, arrested for drug-related crimes, find that they can use their arrest as an opportunity to get help.
If you have been arrested for a drug offense and are curious about your options for treatment, we may be able to help. Drug courts and other options exist to help you get off of drugs and back to a normal, productive life. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and what can be done.