Rutland moves forward on drug treatment - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland moves forward on drug treatment

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"Opiate addiction really is a full-time job. People who are addicted to opiates -- when they wake up in the morning -- that is the primary focus of their day. How to get their opiates -- how to get their drugs. How to make sure they don't go into withdrawal," said Dr. Gordon Frankle with the Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Frankle has spent many years studying opiate addictions and says the city is in great need of a methadone clinic. "Opiate dependence is a big problem in this community and people are already here with opiate dependence. Many are not getting sufficient treatment and many are not getting any treatment whatsoever," he said.

But treatment is coming to the Howe Center, where construction will begin this spring for a methadone clinic. The clinic will be able to treat 300 patients daily and will be self-sustaining by 2014. Until then, the State has agreed to cover initial expenses and operating costs.

"The state has made this a priority area to develop this service and have been committed to it. They have been working with the Rutland community for well over a year on trying to get a program going here," said Dr. Jeff McKee with Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Local law enforcement agencies are also backing the clinic. Police say drug related crime continues to rise and arrests alone won't stop the problem. "Without having treatment and without having opportunities for folks to get themselves clean the demand is there and the drugs are going to keep coming and we are going to continue having the problems in the city," said Rutland City Police Chief James Baker.

Dr. Frankel says anyone seeking treatment must be a Vermont resident, and with several other clinics throughout the state, he expects that most patients will be from the Rutland area.

After multiple public meetings and community debate, Building Ten of the Howe Center was selected from several possible locations. But not everyone is on board with the decision. Christina Warren owns a day care in the Howe Center. She understands the need in the community but hopes the closeness of the clinic won't have a negative impact on the kids in her center. "Some of them have history where they are not allowed to be around children to begin with, so it is a fine line we have to walk to keep the kids safe and we have standards in place to make sure that happens -- but it definitely is a concern," she said.

The clinic is modeled after the Howard Center in Burlington, and will offer a variety of services including counseling and outreach programs.

There are currently over 100 people from Rutland traveling every day across the state for opiate treatment. Doctor Frankle says the top priority, is making sure those members of the community receive help first.

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