There’s a business operating in Manteca that has been here for more than five years.
Until this week, very few people even knew that it was there. That’s because it hasn’t become a haven of crime, or anything else that people typically associate with the particular clientele that frequent this establishment.
Much like every other business they employ people and pay taxes – offering their employees benefits and retirement plans. And at the end of the day, and by most accounts, they’ve been a pretty decent neighbor.
What is this business that I’m speaking of? A methadone clinic. Aegis Treatment Centers to be specific, which provides their particular clients – who just happen to be opiate addicts and people struggling with addiction – with medically supervised withdrawal.
Now, this wasn’t an issue until this week when somebody discovered that the business was operating in Manteca, and decided to share that information with the vast Facebook world – kicking off a discussion that hit on all of the typical social media high points.
Surely these people were the reason that cars are being broken into, right? They must be the ones who are stealing Amazon packages off of doorsteps and then taking the Ring doorbells just for good measure because that’s what all addicts do, right?
The level of judgement dripping from the majority of the townspeople who felt the need to interject their opinion was jaw-dropping to say the least, and left me slightly disillusioned with the people who call the city of my youth home.
It was bad.
And while I’ve been known to get sucked into a Facebook debate or two, I just shook my head and let this one go. Obviously, my opinion isn’t going to change anybody else’s. But the more I began thinking about what these people were saying, and pondering the incorrect information that began floating around, it began to be obvious to me why we have an opiate epidemic to begin with.
Let me just state, unequivocally, that the kinds of people who show up at a methadone clinic every day to receive treatment by and large are not the same people who are breaking into your car. It’s just illogical to think that. They’re going to places like Aegis so that they don’t have to break into your car anymore. They’re getting the medical attention that they need so that they don’t have to score much more dangerous drugs on the street and attempt to corral an unsustainable habit.
It’s worth pointing out that the same people that are against services like this are dead-set against things like needle exchanges and safe injection sites, and some have even said that they don’t necessarily want police and firefighters carrying around lifesaving drugs in case of overdoses – they’d rather let “those people” just take care of themselves.
You can’t argue with that line of thinking.
They believe this is an issue of willpower – that one can simply wish their addition away, or stop taking the dangerous illicit drug they’re hooked to if they just wanted it bad enough.
But if you talk to any addict or alcoholic that managed to turn their life around, you’re more than likely going to hear about a point in their lives when they were drinking or using drugs against their own will – that they wanted to stop but simply could not do it.
That’s what Aegis is for. And we’re lucky that we have something like that here to help those that want to make a change.
If I’ve learned anything in the last two years, it’s that the opinions in echo chambers like Facebook don’t always reflect the opinions of the majority at large because most people don’t spend their time complaining to a digital screen with like-minded people who feed off of their negative energy.
I do understand the natural urge to find a scapegoat for something like Manteca’s homeless problem, but I would appreciate it if people took the time to research what they’re going to invest such a large amount of time in targeting – it would make them look less ridiculous, and wouldn’t pull otherwise good people into the trap that echo chambers provide by giving the false sense that these crazy ideas somehow have merit.
Surely there are exceptions to this, and there’s a conversation to be had about whether methadone and maintenance treatment is a successful option for addicts looking to start a new life. But at the end of the day, these are people who have taken the most difficult step that anybody in their position can possibly take – they’ve admitted they’ve had a problem and they’re trying to do something about it – and it would benefit all of us if we didn’t cast aspersions onto them just because we don’t know enough about the issue ourselves.
The World Cup Delivers Again
I haven’t had the distinct pleasure of getting to watch a World Cup game with friends this year, but from what I’ve been told, the city has been out in full force to root on Portugal in both of their appearances thus far.
Last week that meant people packing into The Pub for the opening round, and earlier this week it meant nearly two dozen people showing up at Fagundes Meats and Catering at 5 a.m. to watch the game and enjoy fresh linguicia and eggs.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Portugal will crush Iran and Ronaldo and Company will cruise into the knockout rounds so that I can partake in some of the fun that I’ve been hearing so much about, but even if that doesn’t happen it’s good to know that sports can still bring people together in this modern age of division – that not even the polarization can stop people from uniting when they share a common passion.
Even if you’re not a sports fan, that’s a pretty cool thing indeed.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.