The Price of Prejudice: Colorado Town Pays $350,000 to Keep Methadone Clinic Out

Mar 18 2016

The Price of Prejudice: Colorado Town Pays $350,000 to Keep Methadone Clinic Out

The town of Monument, Colorado has reportedly reached a settlement of $350,000 in a case where a methadone provider sued officials for refusing to grant it a license to open a clinic.

Colonial Management Group, which operates methadone facilities nationwide, originally sued for $800,000—the $350,000 figure only represents the town’s share of the payment, according to town manager Chris Lowe. More money may be paid out by the town’s insurer. The town, which has reserves of around $300,000, will now have to cut its budget to make the payment, which will ultimately be shouldered by taxpayers.

It’s a needless waste of money. But stigma and prejudice have depressingly led to many NIBMY battles against methadone clinics opening across the nation.

Methadone cuts mortality for people who are addicted to opioids by at least 70%, as well as reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases. In a state where deaths related to heroin and other opioids have surged, you might think that would be seen as important information. And people on methadone work jobs and contribute to society in many ways.

Yet prejudice against methadone persists, partly because of general stigma against people who have used illegal drugs, partly because of a conception, in abstinence-fixated America, that Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) doesn’t “count” as being “clean.” Drug court judges, for example, despite having no medical training, often order people off methadone. This woman has to keep the fact that she receives MAT secret from her employer. And author Tony O’Neill memorably wrote for The Influence about his experiences of stigma:

“Back in the bad old days of the late ‘90s on methadone, it was routine to have to show up at the pharmacy every morning to take your dose in front of the pharmacist. Supposedly intended to stop diversion, this rule seemed to be a thinly-veiled punishment, a way of ensuring that you began each and every day by being reminded of your lowly status on society’s ladder. It still gives me the shivers: first thing in the morning, dragging my aching bones to the local pharmacy, people gawking as I glugged my methadone with shaking hands, mothers pulling their children closer, as though my addict-genes might infect them. Hell, I’m surprised they didn’t make us all wear a linctus-green star and have done with it.”

Monument, Colorado, with a population of around 6,000, is home to some people who use opioids. The town’s leaders have made it pay a heavy price for giving those people fewer options to stay safe.

  • Ron Noname

    I would be extremely angry at these irresponsible bigots who absolutely do not care that the REAL residents of this town will have to pay for what they did, only out of prejudice, ignorance and “better than thou” attitudes of the entire city government.
    They need to be removed from all offices IMMEDIATELY and barred from ever being in this position of financial authority again.
    I don’t drink or use any of the lesser dangerous drugs however, this really stinnks.
    Too bad these types of spendthrifts are immune from law suits that would force them to pay this out of their own pockets and “suffer” some personal financial responsibility.

  • Craig LeMay

    I am opiate addict. I have been desperate to do away with opiates, but trying to quit on my own, going through rehab, and joining groups such as AA and NA did not work. I thought I was done, that i would be stuck with this demon that I could not escape.
    It’s almost impossible for those who are not addicts to understand what addicts go through. We don’t want to be this way, we don’t want to be driven to use whatever drug it is that we may be addicted to. But every time we try to quit, whenever we try to escape the bonds that hold us, the addict that resides within us, almost as a separate entity, takes control, clouds our judgement, highkacks our senses, and almost forces us by any means necessary to use and get high. We don’t want to be this way. We want to be normal human beings, to lead normal lives. But we need help, and for some of us, rehab or support groups aren’t enough; we need medicinal help.
    Which leads me to my personal experience. The methadone clinic that I visit, here in South Carolina off of Carowinds Blvd in Fort Mill, has saved my life. For the first time in years I am able to save money. I do have to pay $105 a week for the clinic, which is a bargain compared to the possible $105 or more a day I was spending for pills or heroin. I am working 2 jobs making around $1200 every two weeks, and before going to the clinic, almost every penny, minus the price of cigarettes and the measly $50 a week my parents charged me for rent, was going to opiates. That’s probably $2150 a month on drugs; TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS A MONTH!!! But that is done now, thanks to the methadone clinic. I spend $420 a month for my medicine now, which still isn’t cheap, but for me personally, because I work two jobs and my parents only charge me $50 a month, isn’t too bad. So I am actually able to save money. I have finally been able to start paying off debts that I have accrued over the years, I am saving up to buy my own car, I will be able to move out of my parents house, I will even be able to purchase health insurance, finally! I will be able to lead what most people consider a normal life.
    The people who are blocking the founding of this methadone clinic have no idea the kind of suffering they are allowing to continue. There are people out there who are experiencing extreme mental, physical, and spiritual pain, and this clinic may be their only salvation. Sure there are some people who will abuse the clinic, and there are some people who would be considered a bit less than “model” citizens who would attend as well, but that is true of every program. I bet you, though, that there are just as many, maybe even more, people like me; people that want to be a beneficial part of the community; people that just want to lead normal lives, free from the stress of having to find drugs on the street. That methadone clinic may be their only answer.

    • JennaTrull

      Best wishes in your continued recovery! *offers a supportive hug*

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