When the Lewiston City Council adopted a special methadone clinic ordinance in 2006, it made locating one here difficult.

Difficult, but not impossible.

The council set intentionally tough standards. Among them: a requirement that a clinic must be more than 1,000 feet from churches, schools, day care centers and parks. That’s about the length of three football fields.

A proposed clinic also would need a license from the city, which would be reviewable each year.

Two tough rules, but clear and fair.

Well, by simply drawing enough circles on a map, a clinic operator, Community Substance Abuse Centers, found a spot on Mollison Way near Sparetime Recreation, and it meets the 1,000-foot requirement.

That’s still too close for several other tenants of the business park who fear their customers will be affected by the clinic’s location.

That is a concern, but rules are rules, and Lewiston established its rules in 2006 and should follow them.

The operator of the proposed clinic has a strong track record of operating professionally and responsibly in other communities, and is emphatic about doing the same here.

In fact, an in-depth report by the Sun Journal Jan. 9 found there were few problems associated with seven of the eight clinics operating in Maine, and the one with problems is operated by a different company.

The clinic operated by CSAC in Portland is not a problem, according to police there. The company operates 10 other clinics in other New England states.

The public tends to misunderstand how such clinics work and underestimates the good they can do in a community.

First, the clinics have nothing to do with methamphetamine, or meth, the extremely dangerous and debilitating drug produced in meth labs.

Methadone clinics mostly treat patients with heroin or prescription painkiller addictions, the fastest-growing drug problem in Maine.

Methadone takes away the obsessive desire for the drugs, but without giving users the euphoric high.

It will surprise no one that we have addicts in our community. What’s surprising is that the second-largest city in the state, and the medical service center for Western Maine, doesn’t already offer this treatment option.

The public might also be surprised by some of the statistics: nearly half of patients are employed at admission; nearly 60 percent a year later.

Often, through the help of a clinic and counseling, clients are once again able to work, support their families and resume nearly normal lives.

One study estimated that for each $1 spent on methadone treatment, society saves $38 in crime, incarceration, unemployment and other expenses.

As things now stand, people seeking such treatment must drive each day from Lewiston-Auburn and Western Maine to clinics in Waterville and Portland.

This is simply wasteful and expensive, making it even more difficult for people with prescription drug problems in our area to obtain effective treatment.

Wisely, Lewiston added a licensing requirement to its methadone clinic ordinance.

If a clinic is built in the proposed location, it must operate cleanly and safely or face losing its license.

Clearly, opiate addiction is a serious medical and social problem and Lewiston-Auburn is the medical hub for a large part of the state.

In the long run, we will all benefit from having this treatment center here.

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