By: Anne Gareis
Hispanics United of Buffalo’s methadone clinic is not objectionable because it offers treatment to the opiate addicted. Rather, the close proximity to homes and schools, with a children’s school bus stop directly across the street, terrifies us. This vibrant, multiethnic neighborhood has fought a challenging battle against crime and drug dealing, with great success. All of this could be wiped out, while HUB receives copious Medicaid reimbursement.
Kudos to those committed to treating their addiction. However, this will not be every methadone client. Some will take the free drug to stave off the terrors of withdrawal until they obtain funds for the drug they really want. Take-home doses are often sold or traded for other drugs. Drug dealers will see a marketing opportunity, targeting and preying upon clients prone to relapse. This is not imagination gone wild. Google “Fulton Street methadone hustle drugs” for examples of how neighborhood methadone clinics foster the drug trade.
Medical facilities are much better equipped to deal with these issues. HUB’s argument that the location is necessary to be accessible to the addicted is flawed, since alternate locations in medical facilities exist that are still “in the neighborhood.”
HUB’s dishonest tactics and complete disregard for residents’ fears have done nothing to build trust. At a community-initiated meeting, Executive Director Eugenio Russi stated there was never intention of informing residents in advance of opening this clinic, then did a complete turnaround weeks later to claim 60 outreach meetings had been held. HUB has yet to produce any meeting documentation.