Pols to Meth Clinic: Shape Up or Ship Out

Faced with a growing frustration among Clinton Hill residents over a host of quality of life issues associated with the methadone clinic at Waverly and Fulton, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Councilmember Letitia James held a sit-down recently with several officials from the state agency that oversees such operations and established a task force to try to remedy the problems. Of particular concern was the combination of loitering, peripheral drug trade and aggressive behavior of clinic visitors and their hangers-on. The high concentration of such clinics in the immediate vicinity was also discussed. (The three clinics above service roughly 1/3 of methadone patients in Brooklyn.) According to Councilmember James, the people running the Fulton clinic have been extremely unresponsive to her overtures about addressing the problems, which are impacting not only the residential character of the neighborhood but the ability to revitalize an entire stretch of retail along Fulton Street. “Assembly Member Jeffries and I are hopeful this taskforce will serve as the proper vehicle to address issues that could threaten the commercial viability and success of Fulton Street,” Councilmember James said. “If matters persist, then I will renew my call for consolidation, downsizing and/or closure.” A community-wide meeting is being planned for late January. More details to come.

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  • Assuming that the clinic doesn’t improve, there’s three options:

    a.) Move the clinic to another, ungentrified neighborhood.

    b.) Move the clinic to a “nice” neighborhood like Park Slope.

    c.) Close the clinic, and instead be overrun by heroin addicts, who aren’t accountable to anyone, much less government agencies.

    Option A is simply moving the problem elsewhere. This is what caused urban decay in the first place. Moving the problem “somewhere else”. Option B is never going to happen. And option C is worse than what we have at the moment.

    It’s interesting that neither councilman talked of improving treatment, so that the patients won’t have to be on drugs forever. That might decrease the problem, no? Or maybe these patients are the constituents they don’t care about.

    Also: What exactly is wrong with the business on that section of Fulton? The amount of business there is similar to many swaths of Park Slope.

  • Is the term “meth” a common description for methadone treatment? I had thought that for at least five or ten years meth referred exclusively to methamphetamines.

  • Option D) Decriminalize drugs and let private agencies and charities deal with addicts. Use the billions saved on drug enforcement and locking up non-violent drug offenders to educate the community and lower addiction rates. The lower cost of the hyper-inflated drugs will lead to lower crime rates and nearly wipe out gang activity and related ills of society.

    People will use drugs whether legal or not. Take out the ridiculous margins in the drug black market and spend the insane amounts of money we burn away on “Enforcement” to fight violent crime and help people that seek it.

  • Methadone clinics by nature exist to allow people to take in a controlled amount of substance so that their heroin problems are kept in check while avoiding a dangerous withdrawal. It’s a questionable “solution” to a sad problem… but I don’t think there’s any way an existing methadone clinic can “step up” treatment and aim to “cure” their constituents.

    Those of us who live near the Fulton St clinic have witnessed a thriving peripheral drug trade as many meth clinic users seek more than their fix.

    It’ll be hard for a task force to monitor all of this adequately, but it’s a step in the right direction. That stretch of Fulton is dark, mostly boarded up, and probably a difficult sell for business owners.

    To say it’s thriving like parts of Park Slope is either turning a blind eye or just ignorance. The two street lights on the north side of Fulton between Waverly and Clinton have been burned out for over a year.

  • At 10:00 AM: Great post. Can’t believe I forgot to mention decriminalization. Of course, I doubt any politician in New York would touch that with a ten foot pole.

  • People knew this clinic was there when they chose to buy there. They should do everything they can to force changes and improvements if it’s so badly run, but trying to close it, taking away help for these addicts, or move it to someone’s else’s backyard is ridiculously unethical. I can’t believe people actually call themselves Liberals then think about trying something like that. Why don’t they just put a George W. Bush sticker on their car and show their true colors. Phony baloney.

  • People will use drugs whether illegal or not.

    People will also use way more of the legal drugs than the illegal ones.

    Do you really want your local watering hole dispensing coke and crystal meth alongside the Maker’s Mark?

  • 10:18 – Typical buck-passing, nonsense reaction…

    What makes you think they will use more drugs? Do you really beleive that drugs being illegal makes people less likely to use them? Of course not, it just makes them more expensive.

    I am not saying open heroin bars, what I am saying is decriminalization.

    Double parking is illegal, so is making U-turns on most blocks – does it mean you dont double park ever? No, it means it is more expensive when you do so, right?

    Making it a crime for me to put a substance in my body is ridiculous, the government should not be in the business of playing mommy and daddy for me. Frightened parents and politicians are always more than willing to throw insane cash at the problem that has not stopped 1 single person from doing drugs ever. Its becuase they beelive it will somehow keep their kids off of drugs. It does nothing but make crime and violence rise and overcrowds the prison system.

    I heard that aspirin causes liver damage – screw your headache, that should be illegal too. And come to think of it, fat people shouldnt drink milkshakes, kids shouldnt play video games, and vitamins turn your piss neon colors – Maybe we should think about that too?

  • @ Lothar of the Clinton Hill People: The streetlights are not a business problem. That’s a government problem. Isn’t it Ms. James’ duty to fix that?

    Also: So in other words, no addict can EVER become free of their dependence? I find that hard to believe. Drug problems are treatable. Meth clinics just happen to be (probably) the cheapest form of treatment. Maybe we can supplement that with actual solutions?

    And the talks of “revitalizing” this area isn’t just about boarded up stores. It’s about taking the existing stores, the stores that are doing good business already, and trying to change them. Why else would residents resist these changes? Do you think them that nihilistic?

  • 10:18- Alcohol and tobacco cause far more damage to society than every illicit drug combined, including marijuana.

  • Several of the filfthy bodegas are complicit in the illegal drug trade. They have no interest in making that stretch of Fulton a nice shopping strip again. It will happen though. Oldtimers who live here, and the huge influx of newcomers have been working together to make their voices heard. You don’t have this sort of debate at community and block association meetings from either newcomers or from people who’ve lived here their entire lives. Everyone is in agreement that it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

  • Meth Clinics are typically part of court mandated treatment programs when addicts get caught up in the system.

  • 10:37 AM- I’ve lived on Madison between Franklin and Classon my entire life. I’d like to think that thankfully, growing up middle class in a poverty ridden area has made me more sympathetic to the worst off among us. So yes, a debate is needed.

  • Please be honest – every study and experience – including our national 13yrs of prohibition demonstrate that decriminalizing drugs makes their use more common. Now that doesnt necessarily mean that decriminalization is wrong – just that you have to expect increased use with a non-criminal supply of such substances. To deny this is to engage in exactly the type of propaganda that the Govt engages in when trying to legitimize its ‘war on drugs’

  • To BedStuyDoDieGuy:

    Yes, addicts can become free of their dependence, but that is not what methadone clinics are designed to do. They’re designed to keep people dependent. Methadone is a long-acting, more benign opiate with less of a high and substitutes a controlled dependence for what could be a deadly heroin addiction.

    I agree with you that the street lights are a government problem, but it’s an example of why that stretch of Fulton is a difficult sell, in conjunction with the loitering that goes on around the clinic.

    And to phony baloney guy, being complacent does not make you a liberal. Some people are too quick to assume everyone just wants to rid a neighborhood of it’s ugly components so as to raise property values. I find it way more progressive to be active in your community and to address drug problems rather than accepting something just because it existed before you got there.

    All of my neighbors who’ve been here for 10+ years seem to agree that the clinic is one of the roots of the drug problem in our neighborhood.

  • “People knew this clinic was there when they chose to buy there”

    “Several of the filfthy bodegas are complicit in the illegal drug trade. They have no interest in making that stretch of Fulton a nice shopping strip again. It will happen though. Oldtimers who live here, and the huge influx of newcomers have been working together to make their voices heard. You don’t have this sort of debate at community and block association meetings from either newcomers or from people who’ve lived here their entire lives. Everyone is in agreement that it is a problem that needs to be addressed.”

    Rant of the clueless. What stores (not bodegas) are selling drugs?Fulton St has been a shithole for years but, you knew this when you bought your overpriced Brownstone here. People just because you overpay for a house, the neighborhood don’t have to respond to your wishes. I think it’s sad that Hakeem Jeffries and Letitia James are kissing the wrong people ass.

    Oh by the way!! It’s 2008 boys and girls the housing bubble is finished!!!

    The What *lmfao*

    Someday this was is gonna end

  • My guess is that Councilmember James is saber-rattling in order to effect change in practices at the methadone clinic, not to close it down. Much of the visibility issue will be dealt with as the new condos open up on Fulton, Washington, Clinton and northern Prospect Heights, bringing more customers to a more varied commercial strip. Fulton Street in that area really underserves the possible client base (restaurants, etc), and the empty lots, abandoned buildings are perhaps as much to blame as the methadone clinic. I’m not sure what 11:14’s point is about stores versus bodegas, but I have seen people buy crack pipes in at least two bodegas on Fulton – the one at the corner of St James and the one next to the Fort Greene Senior center near Grand. One of the local drug dealers hangs out inside the Chicken place near the mosque.

  • Notice that there’s no mention of the clinic on Bergen between 6th and Carlton. I assume that because this one is across from a police station, it’s a better functioning block? Or is it just a miss? I live near there, and always wonder if that block has problems.

  • @ Lothar of the Clinton Hill People: Meth clinics exist because it’s cheaper to satiate people’s addiction rather than actually try and fix their problem. Do you think rich heroin addicts get treated at meth clinics? Of course not. So, it’s a question of priorities. What’s more important, money, or these addicts? For decades it was money, but now, the two have finally become the same issue.

    Maybe James should advocate for BETTER treatment facilities, rather than downsizing or removing the only ones we have. But that’d take integrity.

    And I’ve lived here 20 years. From what I can see, poverty and the illegal status of drugs (the only factor pols have complete control over) are the biggest reasons for the drug problem.

  • “Alcohol and tobacco cause far more damage to society than every illicit drug combined, including marijuana.”

    You’re making my argument for me. Legal drugs cause more damage because they’re more widely used. You think this has nothing at all to do with the fact that they’re legal?

    If you want to argue that drug offenders are over-prosecuted and over-incarcerated, you have a sympathetic ear here. But let’s be realistic, if you make obtaining hard drugs more convenient, more people will use them. Decriminalizing heroin et. al. is an interesting thought experiment, but thinking that use wouldn’t go up and that street gangs would vanish as a result seems more than a bit naive.

  • if you actually bought in clinton hill, what the f did you expect?

  • “You’re making my argument for me. Legal drugs cause more damage because they’re more widely used. You think this has nothing at all to do with the fact that they’re legal?”

    Tobacco is the most widely used drug because it’s the most addictive drug. More so even than heroin.

    And tobacco and cigarettes are more widely used because of the same exact sentiment which has allowed them to be legal while most drugs aren’t- they are seen as “better” drugs, ones that don’t end up ruining your life when taken in moderation. In a way, this may be true.

    As is stands, tobacco alone causes several hundred thousand deaths a year.Alcohol, tens of thousands. And countless billions in health care dollars. Legalized crack or heroin would never cause that type of damage, unless legalization somehow caused usage- frequent usage, like the type we see with cigarettes and alcohol- to increase tenfold.

  • With respect to cigarettes, is there such a thing as driving under the influence of tobacco? Do people smoke cigarettes to get stoned and high? For that matter, do people smoke pot because they like the taste and smell?

    I would not snort cocaine – legal or illegal. But as it stands, because cocaine is illegal I have no idea where to get it. If cocaine were legal, don’t you think more people would try it and use it because it were readily available?

  • Mary what avenue? What happened to Washington Ave?

  • 12:03 PM: Bed Stuy is one of the most crack infested areas in the city. If you TRULY wanted crack, and lived anywhere in the area, you could simply ask around until you found someone willing to sell it to you.

  • One cannot have methadone clinics based in the same neighborhood as prominent real estate blogs! It is time for the addicts to move on!

  • 12:03 – again you are making the faulty assumtion that decrimilization would make people more likely to use them.

    Drugs being illegal has nothing to do with you not knowing where to get them – It has everything to do with you not being interested in getting them because you know they are bad for you and you find them morally repulsive.

    But dont think for a minute that you couldnt walk out of your door and find any drug you wanted within 15 minutes – If that is what you really wanted.

    Also – Being legal and being decriminilized are 2 different things. No, you will not walk into your neighborhood bar and order up some heroin, and the same number of people that want to try them will. Those that dont will not, period. A recent study found that 50-60% of high school seniors have tried some drugs at least once. You think these people found it that hard because it is illegal. Do you think that the other 50% didnt because they didnt know where to find them?

    If people open their eyes and start thinking logically instead of buying into the political crap and scare tatics thrown at them everyday, they would agree the war on drugs is the biggest most expensive failure in the history of the U.S.

  • This Methadone clinic’s days are numbered. With the new charter school opening on Waverly Between Fulton and Atlantic, there’s no way any sane person would allow a methadone clinic across the street from a school full of kids

  • 12:03 laws are not a replacement for your lack of self control.

  • 2:42 speaks the true intent of the Clinton Hill People, not Lothar and his phony claims to help people. The community wants the addicts out of there to help their property values.

    Just admit it, CH. You’re making fools of yourselves pretending otherwise, with all these little arguments about the nature of addiction.

  • “Do you think rich heroin addicts get treated at meth clinics? Of course not. So, it’s a question of priorities. What’s more important, money, or these addicts?”

    The question isn’t one of $ or these addicts. It’s why would you keep a clinic in a place were none of the residents need it? You’re right in saying that ‘rich’ people or those with insurance don’t get off smack by using methadone. Methadone is a crap solution. Get the clinic out of the neighborhood because the neighborhood, according to you, doesn’t use it.

    Open it or some other service in the area where the junkies actually live. Make it legal or not, but don’t put it where the residents don’t need it and don’t want the crap coming with it.

  • The problem with clinics is that they are needed, but they can’t easily find space. When they have a location, they are not going to move to suit their clientele unless they are forced out by their landlord. If they pay their rent, the landlord won’t force them out. If they own the space outright, they aren’t going to move. Hovever, if they were another kind of business, the neighbohood residents could ‘vote’ for their presence by shopping or not shopping there, and effectively force them out by not buying their goods.

    Put the clinics at hospitals or next to police stations where the goings on directly outside will be better regulated. Anyone paying over a million for a house should have every right to not want a clinic in their neighborhood (if they aren’t themsleves a client).

  • I am not a heroin addict or anything like that, but methadone gets you pretty darn high, and I would like to inquire as to how I can go and jsut get some free methadone.

    Anyone know if you can just roll up and grab a fix?

  • “I’m high right now”!

  • “M’kay, drugs are bad, m’kay”

  • There is a methadone clinic on Court Street in Carroll Gardens that seems to be very well run. Despite its proximity to several bodegas and a couple schools, its customers and “hangers-on” are not a particularly visible presence. Every once in a while there is a problem, but it’s not chronic.

    So, it is possible to run a methadone clinic in a way that isn’t horrifically detrimental to a “nice” neighborhood. Best wishes to Ms. James and her beleagured community.

  • there’s also a methadone clinic at 57th St and 6th Ave in the city (a block away from Tiffany’s). However, it’s run well so its impact is minimal.

    For the CH clinic, telling them to shape up or ship out seems perfectly reasonable.

  • Crack is whack, even Whitney knows that.

  • 5.10 – if you really want to try it out, addicts sometimes will keep the methadone in their mouth, spit it into a cup and try to sell it on the street. Good luck!

  • All of you people are woefully uninformed. Methadone TREATMENT has been in Brooklyn and the rest of NYC for forty years. There are 115 clinics located throughout NY State and they are all regulated by NYS, the Federal Government, and must be accredited to operate. Their capacity is controlled by NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Part of the state regulations require that the clinics address “community concerns” in a positive way and that patients who fail to adhere to loitering and other policies cannot remain in treatment. On the other hand, the State has not provided the funding or support needed to provide vocational and educational services, motivational enhancement or other evidence based addiction treatment services to these clinics.

    The clinics were there before the gentry moved in, and the gentry do not remember when heroin related crime and overdoses were common throughout the city. So the trade was treatment with a medication, coupled with counseling, medical care and social services or rampant heroin addiction, property crime, overdose deaths and disease. Opioid addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain (see http://www.nih.nida.gov) and may require lifelong treatment for the majority of patients – others, about 20% may be able to live without medication, but all must work a process of recovery. Further, these clinics in your area treat about 4,000 patients, and you complain about 50-100 of them. Not a bad recovery rate, if 2.5% are not doing well, is it?

    Guest who thinks you all need education and knowledge.

  • Education! Education! Education! This is the biggest problem. Alot of people do not know what is Methadone and what it is used for. I am speaking from a clients point of view. The clinic is not run by heroine addicts! Our staff personnel have Credentials. Also this MMTP is one of 3 clinics here.They have a Methadone program upstairs, then 2 DRUG FREE Programs. They are all run by ARTC, but they are not all Methadone. In these programs you learn how to stay illicit free of all drugs (including prescribed medication, alcohol, etc.). In these clinics they have Educational Classes for those who need to go back to school or get their GED, need help with City or Fed Tests, Computer Classes, Vocational Training, Job Placement, Support Groups, Networking, One on One Counseling, we have a Patient Advisory Committee who has raised funds thru Flea Markets, Bake Sales for Hurrican Katrina Victims, we have marched/ralley at (AIDS,Cancer,Hepatitis, Marches) and more. We went to Albany to speak to our Senators in 2005 inregards to this communities improvement. We are not all the Bad Apples here. The drug traffic around here has nothing to do with us clients and most of the Loitering is from the school students from this neighborhood and people that do not live here. We can all get along if we just try to put our heads together instead of making us the culprits. Instaed of being part of the problem, let’s be part of the Solution. Ms. L.Gonzalez (P.A.C.)

  • Just this morning I saw one of the staff who work at the Fulton Street clinic come out the front door where he noticed a couple of patients ogling a woman walking down Waverly towards Greene. The staff guy yells out “Yo!” to get her attention. She ignorned him and he laughed and joked around with the patients. Real professional. No wonder there are issues when this happens.