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Clinic opposition in city is knee-jerk reaction

Commentary

Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts.

In the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep people in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.

In the Sept. 8 edition of the OBSERVER, the location of “the clinic” was reported to still be in question. A concerned citizen, who I won’t refer to, stated, “A methadone clinic in the business district is not the answer!”

Her stated position was from a “rumor” that the clinic was going on Central Avenue. The facts are there are already two chemical dependency treatment clinics on Central (not dispensing Methadone), UPMC and Chautauqua Treatment.

Those are facts, not emotional reasoning based on opinions and no facts. I teach the people in REBT to question everything. Then when they form their beliefs, provide evidence as to what their thinking is. To some of the people in this community who are against “the clinic” for whatever reason, I would ask the following, “is it race, prejudice, ignorance of alcohol and other drugs, or is it just irrational thinking based on fear?”

The great football coach from the ’60s, “Bear” Bryant of the University of Alabama stated, “You don’t condemn people’s fears, you educate them.” This is a rational belief, because at that time he was recruiting African-American players and going through an uproar because ‘Bama had been traditionally white. So in the 77th year of my life in this city, and over 35 years in chemical dependency/counseling, let’s see if I can provide evidence so your thinking can at least become more rational.

From 1991 to 1995, I was a counselor in Buffalo at a halfway house called Friends of Cazenovia Manor on Legion Drive. Our house was small, but housed 18 males who had been severely sickened due to their addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Notice I said “other drugs” because alcohol in addiction is as deadly as crack or heroin. When I was hired, I had no idea what to expect, never working in halfway housing before.

I was assigned six clients. Now, you need to understand that most of these guys had multiple treatments and failed most of them, lived on the streets “dealing or stealing,” to feed their addiction.

Some were court-ordered, some were not. However, one thing was certain, their disease had progressed to the point that the outcome would be jail, an institution or death. They would be at Caz for one year, on Social Services for “three hots and a cot,” plus intense treatment based on the fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, discipline, sponsorship and volunteer work. No one asked them if they’d like to do it. It was automatic.

They would sign a “contract” that included the procedures. If they didn’t sign, they were out. We had a large waiting list for others that wanted structure.

So, if any of you reading this, know anything about “South Buffalo,” then you would know that that area was populated at that time with hard-working, God-fearing Irish-Americans, hard-working, hard drinking and thinking that “drugs” were works of the devil.

Mike Tramuta has been a CASAC counselor for more than 30 years and currently runs the REBT program on Thursday nights at the Holy Trinity Parish Center from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Call 983-1592 for more information.

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