Lewiston methadone clinic opens quietly

LEWISTON — A Mollison Way clinic designed to treat drug addiction with methadone quietly opened its doors last week.

Jennifer Minthorn, program director of the Merrimack River Medical Services clinic, said the facility has 43 patients, mostly Lewiston-Auburn residents who used to get their treatment at the Portland-branch of the clinic.

"That's really the state's priority, to get those folks in treatment moved up here because it saves money and transportation costs," Minthorn said. "But ultimately, the priority is to get people that need it into treatment. That's what we're trying to do now."

Both the Lewiston and Portland branches are operated by Massachusetts-based Community Substance Abuse Centers.

Councilors approved a business license for the treatment clinic in April, allowing it to rent space behind Sparetime Recreation, about 600 feet from the door of the Pediatric Associates clinic.

Lewiston's ordinance allows substance abuse treatment centers to be built as long as they are a minimum of 1,000 feet from churches, schools, parks or day care centers or facilities. It also limits them to certain zoning districts.

According to the City Council's April approval, the clinic must provide enough space to keep clients from lining up outside of its doors, monitor the exterior to make sure they don't linger and invite the city and neighbors in to view the facility within 90 days of opening. 

The clinic needs to put an alarm on all emergency exits leading to shared space in the building, follow professional treatment protocols, limit the number of patients to 500 and provide copies of all federal and state licenses to the city clerk.

Crews had finished work modifying the space in August, but Minthorn said the center didn't receive all of its licenses from the state and federal governments until September. The clinic finally received approval from the state to begin charging MaineCare for patient treatment on Sept. 16. It opened its doors Sept. 19, but took its first patients on Sept. 20.

The clinic is open seven days per week. Monday through Friday, the clinic gives out doses to patients from 5:30-11:30 a.m. and provides counseling services until 1:30 p.m.

The clinic provides dosing to patients from 6 to 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sunday.

Minthorn said the clinic plans to invite the public to view the operation sometime in mid-October.

The clinic also must meet with the chief of police twice each year and come back annually for a city council review.


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Nick, because MMT clinics are protected by the ADA--the Americans with Disabilities Acts--from being discriminated against in zoning ordinances, etc.

Regarding people "not being interested in counseling"--realize first that everyone at the clinic is there of their own free will to get better. NO one is there under court order, or threats from Employee Assistance Programs, probation, etc. These are people who WANT their lives to improve.

In addition, counseling for MMT patients is REQUIRED on at least a monthly basis. It is NOT required for people attending 12 step groups such as AA or NA--in fact they have no medical oversight at all--yet people welcome them into their communities and are happy to have them met in their churches, libraries, etc, despite the FACT that these folks are far far more likely to be actively using alcohol or illicit drugs.

Nick Gagnon's picture

I just know that the people I

I just know that the people I have encountered that use methadone clinics, atleast when they were using suboxone pills, have had their prescription of suboxone along with illegally possessed oxycodone with them eading m to believe they go to the clinic to get an extra drug to abuse. I know this does not apply to all clinic users but the ones I deal with, this has been my experience so to me they just abuse te clinicnstead of try to get better. I also know I have met a lot of people unlawfully possessing suboxone that is not theirs because the person that went to the clinic sold their prescription. Maybe since they have gone to new ways to administer suboxone, things will change, I hope.

Nick Gagnon's picture

Why is it that business

Why is it that business owners that are trying to open topless coffee shops and dance clubs get denied because certain people make a public out-cry about them but in this case, it didn't matter how many people didn't want this clinic in the area and they were allowed to open "quietly" after not hearing anything about it for so long.
I'm sure the 5:30 to 11:30 time will be much more busy than the 1:30 time since a majority of these patients are not interested in couseling. Who did the measurement from the day care that is right up the street? I am sure they must be pushing the limit there.

good and bad

While I am so pleased to hear the clinic has opened it's doors to assist patients, I am still appalled at the drama over the whole thing and the flagrantly illegal requirements placed upon them i.e., being so many feet from churches, schools, parks, etc). By Federal law, these types of requirements can only be made if you are also requiring every other medical practice, dental practice, urgent care clinic, etc in the area to do so--methadone clinics CANNOT be singled out for different zoning requirements. I suppose it was one of those "go along to get along " things and I understand that--the important thing is that the clinic be up and running--it just serves to further marginalize people in treatment, to treat them as though they are the worst kind of sexual predators, rather than someone who got addicted to (usually) Rx painkillers and needs help getting off.

What is the PURPOSE, for example, of requiring it to be so many feet from a CHURCH? There are several clinics I know of that operate OUT of churches. Would the Lord want His house to be close and convenient only for those without problems--or did Jesus not hang out with and speak to those many would have considered beneath him--people with demons, people with leprosy, Pharisees, tax collectors, etc?


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