Braeside residents angered at the operation of a methadone clinic in their community could be misinformed about the drug, its clientele, and potential collateral effects of not having a clinic, say experts.

Joan Toso, executive director of the Opioid Dependency Program at 4 Street SW said their clinic has had no problems since opening.

“It’s a scary sounding drug. You hear ‘addicts’ and you get scared,” said Toso. “A person properly stabilized on methadone you would never know they were on methadone.”

Methadone is used to treat an addiction to opioids, which include heroin, morphine, codeine, Percocet and OxyContin.

Toso said patients are started on low dosage, building tolerance up until opioid symptoms dissipate.

Tight controls are placed on the drug’s administration, said John Kennedy, clinical professor of psychiatry and adjunct professor at the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, and he equates the loss of clinical methadone treatment with that of a balloon. “If you squeeze one side to shut it off, then it manifests itself somewhere else,” he said, adding that ending methadone treatment usually means an increase in satisfying the opiates addiction via other avenues.

Kennedy suggested this includes an increase in illegal drug activity and thefts of other available replacements, leading to an increase in area crime.

“The more visible and effective a methadone clinic is in a community, the quality of life in that community is proportionally improved,” he said.

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