BANGOR – The Special Committee on Opiate Addiction on Tuesday accepted a comprehensive report examining the problem as it exists in the Bangor region and recommendations for combating the problem on a number of fronts.
That does not mean that the panel’s work is done.
The adoption of the committee’s report, compiled by City Manager Edward Barrett, came half a year after the panel was established by the Bangor City Council to study the opiate addiction problem in the Greater Bangor area in response to a controversial proposal by Acadia Hospital to open a methadone clinic here.
After five months of research and debate, the committee last week agreed to recommend to state licensing officials that the clinic open, but only after several conditions have been met. Among the conditions is that a community advisory committee be established to help shape and evaluate the treatment program’s operation.
A site has yet to be chosen for the clinic, though the special committee did agree that the clinic initially would operate in a medical setting. Co-Chairman Dr. Jack Adams of Acadia Hospital said Tuesday night that a final decision on the site wasn’t likely until spring.
The report now is subject to approval by the City Council, Acadia trustees and the state Office of Substance Abuse, which is responsible for licensing. The committee also is slated to present its findings and recommendations to Commissioner Lynn Duby of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, who will respond and possibly offer recommendations of her own.
Also during their meeting, members of the special committee – which consists of three members each from the City Council and the Acadia board of trustees – agreed that they should form the nucleus of the citizens advisory group because of the depth of knowledge they have attained while researching their report.
The expanded membership, one of dozens of issues addressed in the committee’s final report, is expected to include state and local law enforcement, referring treatment organizations and other treatment providers, education representatives, clergy, corrections officials, as well as representatives from neighborhoods and the community at large.
Other elements that committee members agreed should be considered are representation from the state Office of Substance Abuse, and medical officials who deal with substance abuse in the county jail setting.
It appears that the city stands a good chance of receiving federal assistance for the clinic’s start-up phase. The Federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment recently informed city officials that it is interested in funding an outside evaluator to work with Acadia and the advisory group during the program’s first year to establish an evaluation process, especially in regard to community impact, in addition to its continuing technical assistance program. The state would have to apply for this funding on the city’s behalf.
The group scheduled its next meeting for Tuesday, Jan. 9, in the City Council chambers at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.