Methadone Clinics Don’t Cause Crime: Addiction Causes Crime
It’s not unreasonable for neighborhood residents to want to keep crime rates at a minimum in the areas where they live. Businesses, such as liquor stores and porn shops are well known for attracting unwanted activities, but can the same be said for methadone clinics?
Methadone clinics have gotten a bad reputation that’s not necessarily deserved. While addiction does tend to drive criminal-type behaviors, methadone clinics serve those who are in recovery.
The truth of the matter is the numbers don’t add up as far as methadone clinics and higher crime rates are concerned.
Crime Rate Study
A study conducted by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2011 sought to compare Baltimore crime rates involving three types of establishments:
- Methadone clinics
- Convenience stores
- Liquor stores
Results from the study show crime rates ran 25 percent higher in areas with liquor store locations than in areas with methadone clinics. Rates of crime turned out to be the same in locations that housed methadone clinics and convenience stores.
The Role of the Methadone Clinic
Much of the concern surrounding methadone clinics and criminal activity has to do with the stigma surrounding methadone treatment in general. Opponents of methadone treatment view methadone as a substitute for heroin and other addictive opiates.
From this standpoint, people who frequent methadone clinics are still considered addicts.
According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, methadone enables recovering addicts to abstain from compulsive drug use and take steps towards rebuilding normal, healthy lifestyles. Ultimately, the people who frequent methadone clinics are trying to improve their lives not engage in criminal activity.
Methadone Clinic Access
Misconceptions surrounding methadone clinic clientele and rising crime rates have made it increasingly difficult to open drug treatment facilities in areas where they’re needed most. In effect, a “not-in-my-backyard” mentality has residents in affected areas fighting against opening methadone clinics in their neighborhoods.
The stigma of addiction runs so strong as to hamper the recovery efforts of people trying to overcome addiction’s hold on their lives. For many in recovery, the label “addict” and stigma that comes with it remains regardless of the progress they make.
An Unwanted Solution
Logically-speaking, the best way to reduce drug-related crime rates lies in helping addicts get the help they need to get well. While methadone clinics may well be an unwanted solution, they nonetheless get to the root of the problem.
As actual crime rates show methadone clinics pose no more risk than local convenience stores, their presence can actually help lower crime rates over time. Otherwise, addiction’s influence will continue to grow when needed treatment facilities are denied access to affected areas.
Addiction operates as a chronic, relapse-prone disease that only gets worse with time. While incarcerating those who commit drug-related crimes offers a temporary solution, once they return to the community the addiction problem will pick up right where it left off.
Ultimately, ensuring people in need of methadone clinic treatment can access these services offers the best approach for warding off criminal activity in local neighborhoods.