This story should be subtitled “Still crazy in Alabama.” Here’s this report from Susan Staats -Combs, owner and director of Shelby County Treatment Center and Chilton County Treatment Center, two opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in Alabama.
“At one point in history, you could see discrimination all over the web,” she recounted recently, referring to discrimination against methadone patients and providers. “Communities are now more accepting of treatment for opioid use disorder – unless it’s going to be next door. “NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) is harder to find now, but it’s alive and well in Clanton, Alabama.
Recently, the city of Clanton decided to put up a new hotel, she said. “They tore down a problem old hotel and cleared the land for the new one. As they began to tear the building down, state troopers, police, and sheriffs started harassing patients severely, she said. The goal was to “make them not want to come to treatment, so the clinic will be destroyed.”
Law enforcement even interrogated passengers in cars, asking them if they were taking methadone, she said.
Officers say they can search a car if it is “leaving the clinic” and the patient didn’t have a seat belt on or didn’t use a blinker, she said.
“One female patient was horrified as all her dirty laundry bags were opened up on the side of the road. They found nothing.”
She has contacted the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the federal Department of Justice, and others, and been trying to set up a meeting with the Clanton Mayor since December 19, 2022.
Last fall, Chilton County posted that it was hiring a full-time development director to improve tourism and that the hotel rooms would come with a tax for specific revenue for the county. Here’s what Staats-Combs thinks of that. “The Department of Justice would see this as the Hampton Inn, owned by Hilton, may be leery of coming to an area with a treatment center nearby.”
Staats-Combs is also a member of the Alabama Governor’s Council on Opioid Misuse and Addiction, National Stop Stigma Now Board, president of ALAMTA, president of Recovery Gardens, and a member of the Alabama Substance Abuse Coordinating Committee, Alabama Opioid Data Committee, Alabama Opioid Treatment Committee, and Alabama Opioid Workforce Committee.