Saint John's successful methadone program will be highlighted at a national conference in Vancouver this fall.

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Methadone is a drug used to help control the withdrawal symptoms from opiates. (The Canadian Press)

The program will be the subject of a panel discussion at the Canadian Conference on Criminal Justice.

A study performed last fall showed that 95 per cent of patients at the methadone clinic in uptown Saint John, based out of St. Joseph’s Community Health Centre, stayed in the program after one year, nearly double the rate of programs in other parts of the country.

Saint John police chief Bill Reid is a well-known advocate for methadone treatment programs for those addicted to opiate drugs.

He said when access to the treatment was expanded in the city five years ago, something interesting happened.

"Crime in our city has gone down double digits since 2009," said Reid.

Not all of it can be attributed to methadone, said Reid, but there's clearly an impact.

"There's no shortage of methadone because the drug is dirt cheap," he said.

Methadone is a drug used to help control the withdrawal symptoms from opiates.

Another key player in pushing methadone treatment in Saint John is University of New Brunswick Professor Timothy Christie. Christie is the director of ethics for the regional health authority, and sits on the city's board of police commissioners.

On Oct. 4, he and Julie Dingwell, of Aids Saint John, will present findings to the Canadian Conference on Criminal Justice.

Their conclusion: methadone, a medicine that costs 40 to 50 cents a day per patient, will help addicts off dangerous drugs while lowering crime rates.