A counsellor at a Moncton methadone clinic has posted an online ad, calling on local agencies to give her clients a chance to volunteer.
Chelsea Pridham, at the Phoenix Pharmacy, says people in the addiction recovery and maintenance program just want to give back to the community.
"I feel that, with them being so successful in their programs, and overcoming the barriers they have in the past, that … it's just really sad to see that there's not more acceptance in the community, really."
Pridham contends volunteer experience is often an essential part of recovery and would also benefit the community.
'The addiction itself is a huge, huge struggle. So there's a lot of strength in them.'—Chelsea Pridham, counsellor
But stigma keeps many volunteer agencies from accepting her clients, she said.
"Almost everybody does a criminal record check. And even when they don't, when I approach them with the fact that my clients were methadone patients or that they had criminal backgrounds, the door was shut pretty quickly.
"So, even though my clients and the people that come into the clinic really want to give back and do something positive for the community, it's very difficult. They're met with a lot of barriers."
Methadone is a synthetic opiate used to treat pain, as well as addictions to opioids, such as heroin, Dilaudid and Oxycontin.
Pridham said she understands the hesitations some people might have about methadone clients.
Even she used to have doubts, she said. But then addiction hit close to home, and a family member went through methadone treatment.
"These people are coming from struggles that a lot of people have never, could never imagine," she said.
"The addiction itself is a huge, huge struggle. So there's a lot of strength in them when they commit to the program and they do really well for a long period of time."
In her ad, Pridham urges anyone who knows of any organizations willing to work with people with a criminal history to contact her.
She acknowledges there are some groups that some of her clients can't work with.
Nevertheless, her ad is starting to get some interest from agencies, she said.