BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One Baltimore City pastor is opening an “open access” methadone clinic to treat heroin addicts within minutes.  Gigi Barnett explains he has yet to receive approval from the state.

Rev. Milton Williams’ church is in the heart of east Baltimore.  So is his methadone clinic, called “Turning Point.” 

On July 5, Williams plans to bring a controversial “open access” treatment method to Baltimore.  The plan: give heroin addicts methadone after a 15-minute assessment.

“Sometimes it can take three weeks to a month to get into a methadone program.  The person we’re trying to reach, they’re not going to stand for that.  They’re going to keep using,” Williams said.

Methadone is the drug used to ease withdrawal from heroin.  With it, Williams believes the number of crimes in east Baltimore will drop dramatically.

“We believe that if we can connect with an addict on a street to let them know that same 15 minutes you’re going to invest in a crime, invest in health and the development of your recovery,” he said.

Williams’ plan has critics, especially the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  It says Williams doesn’t have permission to do away with a required evaluation by a doctor and a counselor before treating patients with methadone.

“People need a great deal more than just the dose methadone.  They need real help in getting their lives back together,” said Greg Warren, Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems.

Williams’ clinic already has the license it needs from the state to treat a methadone patient the traditional way.  He says that’s all the documentation he needs to get  them in and out in 15 minutes.

“This concept has never been done before, so of course the state has its questions about it.  So we believe that we are going to simply do what we have already been authorized to do,” Williams said.

Williams says his clinic would serve up to 150 addicts every night once it opens.

Comments (21)
  1. Lucky lou says:

    where is this pastor geting methadone in this quaninty and not appoved by state or city, you need permits and appovals for everthing but meth now,,,,,wow

  2. how did he get the methadone says:

    we know the uses of methadone but with no aurthorutys giving the green light could be very dangerous to the church and neighbors

  3. Jeanne Clarke says:

    I agree with what the pastor is doing. Addicts in agony are going to commit a crime to get money for drugs; if there’s no need to do this – if they can walk into a clinic and get what they need immediately – what a difference this could make! I say give it a go – there’s nothing to lose. Medical exam? Most addicts that desperate aren’t going to be a thousand percent healthy. What can methadone do to them that heroin hasn’t already? Except, perhaps, stabilize them.

  4. bornandraised says:

    those addicts are making plenty of money SELLING the drugs that they get at the clinic as SOON as they leave. The congregate right around the corner, doing transactions, buying liquor at the store that is directly across the street. I go past this clinic every day to get to work. It’s sad that nothing is done about this “open air” market for the drugs that come from this clinic…..

  5. Chris Blackwell Langford says:

    I WAS ADDICTED TO HEROIN FOR OVER 25 YEARS. i BEEN CLEAN FOR 3 YEARS i NEVER USED METHADOME TO GET CLEAN BECAUSE I THINK THAT IS A LEGAL WAY OF GETTING HIGH. Giving A addict a easy and free way of getting high is not going to stop crime. Addicts need rehab not methadome

    1. tate says:

      “an addict” “an easy” Check your grammar and remove the caps lock.

      Methadone has been proven to ease people off of Heroin. You can’t stop cold turkey.

      1. ha ha says:

        Tate, he was an addict for 25 years and now clean for three, I think we can forgive the grammar. What was the point of your comment? Just picking on people? Well, let’s see, you started your sentence off with a lower case letter, and then capitalized the letter “C” in “Check”. Enough said smarty pants?

  6. Amanda Plaine says:

    @ Chirs I couldn’t agree with you more congrats on 3 years being clean I pray you stay that way!!

  7. Midgte2914 says:

    It’s am,azing that an addict can get treatment and drugs in 15 minutes where some people who have an HMO and work every day of their life until retirement, have to wait for the HMO to give approval for medicines, x-rays, surgery, etc., to help a true to life medical illness, and not an urgency brought on by drug addiction. This is only ALLOWING AND ENABLING them TO BE THE BURDEN ON SOCIETY THAT THEY ARE. They will take this preacher’s methadone and will turn around and immediately sell it for their drug of choice, and will still continue to steal and be a thorn in the side of our society. Hardworking law-abiding citizens have to wait for an answer from their insurance company, but because drug abusers might commit a crime if they don’t get their drugs, they get it for free and right away. Wake up and smell the coffee — your an enabler.

    1. tate says:

      You think drug addiction isn’t a medical illness? I bet you think alcoholism is a choice too.

      1. Sister says:

        This won’t be a popular opinion, but people who are recovering from a disease, like Cancer, don’t sneak around looking for ways to put the cancer back into their bodies.

        I am a family member of 2 addicts and they are selfish & inconsiderate, plain and simple. They can quit….they chose not to. The needles don’t magically appear loaded up out of thin air…they steal from us and go out and purchase them. The booze doesn’t accidentally rise up to their lips and drain down their throats…they buy the liquor and drink it. If you are making a conscious effort to chose not to use, then you are making a conscious effort to chose to use. It is a choice. It just is.

  8. susanne says:

    I think this is an idea worth trying. I’m sure they have to take the methadone inside the clinic and can’t take it outside to sell. Let’s support this creative answer and see if it helps people.

  9. Jerry says:

    These methadone clinics are a joke. There is one across the street from dialysis unit i go to.I see people come out of there causing fights, getting arrested those 2 i saw and that’s with the clinic.It’s the same thing without the clinic so what the hell is the difference . Oh it’s just a legal quick fix place. I was a admitted drug addict and alcoholic at the age of 15, quit cold turkey and stayed clean going on 33yrs without any clinic. This is going to be a disaster waiting to happen. Get ready for the crime and murder rate to go up.

  10. AssoraClata says:

    Awsome post ! I will save it in my favorites. thank you

  11. Mike says:

    I don’t want to hear that methadone helps ease the addiction. I know a person that was in a methadone program for 25 years. She got her methadone and became addicted to it. So then she was eligible for disability thru social security, section 8 housing, food stamps, and then she was getting a welfare check on top of all that.
    Luckily for the tax paying citizens of Maryland, she ended up overdosing on her methadone because the clinic gave her all she needed for a weekend and she took it all at one time.
    Get rid of the clinics and let these dregs make the choice to clean up or deal with life on their own

  12. Leah C says:

    This article was originally posted on Friday but got very few responses so I guess they reposted it. Here’s what I posted on Friday:

    Don’t drug addicts being treated with Methadone have to be monitored closely to make sure they’re taking the correct dosage, not mixing with other meds/drugs, etc. Seems somewhat irresponsible of this Pastor to just give anybody off the street this drug without having a full medical history of somebody. And who is going to supply this clinic with the Methadone? It’s not exactly something you can pick up OTC at CVS.

  13. Fred Baziak says:

    Methadone, not Jesus is the answer for sin? It is a sad thing to see the church turn to drugs not the Lord and Savior Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit, not drugs is the ONLY way to be set free from sin.

  14. Thomas Johnson says:

    Just the methadone treatment is not enough. There is also a mental health issue. Until that is addressed the addicts do not know the exact nature of the disease.

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