Methadone Clinic Seeks to Open in North Adams
|Spectrum Health Systems is planning a methadone clinic on Curran Highway.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Spectrum Health Systems is planning to open a methadone clinic at 1274 Curran Highway.
The private nonprofit operates 16 program centers in Massachusetts, including one in Pittsfield that initially ran into opposition but has operated quietly since 2012. It also has treatment centers in six other states and treats nearly 50,000 patients annually.
The building, formerly an A&W and more recently a child-care center and postal service business, will have 12 parking spaces and extended curb cut. According to the plans, landscaping will include plantings and grassy areas and a gated fence to the back of the property where there will be an exit-only egress. The property is owned by Ronald Ouimet.
Spectrum has applied for a special permit to operate a professional office and business services and will appear before the Planning Board on Monday night. The board's purview is limited to the site plan — parking, setbacks, landscaping, etc. — because it is considered primarily as an educational program so, by law, does not fall under planning.
In a letter to Building Inspector William Meranti, Spectrum's Chief Operating Officer Kurt A. Isaacson wrote that "this is the same program that we are currently operating at 10 other sites throughout the Commonwealth pursuant to licensure by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. ...
"The program is designed to improve the participants' quality of life and functional abilities by teaching them cognitive and behavioral skills through educational clinical groups held in classrooms, with each participant receiving between two-and-a-half to five hours of on-site education and behavior modification each week. Education is the primary component of the program and participation in the education component is mandatory."
Spectrum offers a variety of programming and counseling, from drug-free housing to mental health services to driver alcohol education. The North Adams substance abuse treatment center will also include educational and support programs.
A call to the company's Worcester office had not yet been returned.
Its proposed North Adams operation as a medication-assisted treatment center is similar to its methadone clinic in Pittsfield at 42 Summer St. that has been open for more than two years. Experience Wellness Centers at 163 South St., open since 2010, treats addiction with Suboxone and vivitrol.
Abuttors have often opposed methadone clinics over fears of criminal activity. A study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that crime did not increase around methadone clinics. The 2012 report looked at 15 clinics in various parts of Baltimore.
Pittsfield Police Capt. John Mullin said it was difficult to separate out activity resulting in police calls to the dense downtown area where the Spectrum center is located. However, he said it appeared "there were no major incidents in the last year or so" related specifically to the Spectrum center.
Heroin and opiate-related substance abuse and crime has reached crisis proportions in many parts of the nation. Methadone and Suboxone are both regulated medications that can only be prescribed by licensed treatment settings.
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