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Contrary to concerns that methadone treatment clinics attract crime to the surrounding area, a new study finds there is no evidence this occurs.

Researchers from the University of Maryland school of Medicine used FBI reports from the Baltimore Police Department to examine crime near 13 methadone clinics for a two-year period. They compared these reports to crime data for similar neighborhoods in Baltimore with no methadone clinics.

They also compared crime near methadone clinics, hospitals and convenience stories. They found crime was more likely to occur around convenience stores, The Baltimore Sun reports.

“The concern is that methadone treatment facilities are related to a higher crime rate in the area, but there is no evidence that this is what happens,” Antonello Bonci, Scientific Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the newspaper. “We hope this study will alleviate this concern. I hope people will look at this data and realize it is not a problem.”

Lead researcher Susan Boyd noted that methadone clinics have a bad reputation in communities.  “There are many more people out there who need treatment, but there are not enough slots and clinics available, and part of it is because of the community stereotypes they have about methadone clinics,” she said. Boyd said she hopes the study paves the way for more clinics to open, so that more people who need treatment can receive help.

The study appears in the journal Addiction.

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