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Addiction issues have really taken hold in our province in the past decade. Oxycontin abuse was rampant, caused many deaths, and destroyed many more lives in other ways. It hits very close to home for many, myself included. It seems no family is safe from addiction. You would think by now, with all that is known about just how much drug use and dependency is in the province that adequate and accessible treatment would have been developed and implemented.Sadly very little is being done, people are still suffering through addiction, and there is little help. What programs there are in place are often backed up with people waiting to get in. In other cases there’s just not enough room and addicts are left out in the cold.

One of the biggest blows recently has been the closure of the Downtown Pharmacy, which offered Methadone Treatment to more than 100 recovering addicts. Most pharmacies that were administering Methadone have discontinued the practice and understandably so. The demand is overwhelming, each dose of Methadone has to be mixed individually to patients needs. With the amount of people seeking Methadone, there’s not enough time to handle other pharmacy duties. There is also the problem of people abusing the system, getting Methadone take home treatments only to turn around and sell it on the street. Some pharmacists have had to deal with tense situations involving  addicts desperate for Methadone. It is a complicated issue that is fair to neither the pharmacists nor the addicts. When it comes down to it pharmacies are not really equipped to handle the demand for Methadone. Pharmacists are also not really trained to handle agitated patients, and as a result safety is at risk.

What is needed in this province are actual Methadone Clinics with staff trained to handle addicts. That and an actual treatment facility or facilities are what many have been crying out for here for a long time. Addicts continue to be swept under the rug, apparently not worth helping. Sure there are addicts who abuse the system and have no intention of getting treatment, but how many more have gone to the local media pleading for the government to intervene and put a solid support and treatment program in place. Every other week there’s someone on the news, in the paper or calling into open line radio shows begging for help, if not for themselves then for a loved one gripped by addiction.

There have been several safe injection sites and needle exchange programs in St.John’s that are full to overflowing with users on a daily basis. That is about as far as government is willing to go, it’s merely an individual problem in their eyes. Anyone who knows the horror of addiction first hand knows that this is a social problem and it affects the whole community, not just individuals and families. The longer that it is left on the back burner, the more damage it will cause. Why not address it now before more lives are destroyed?

By:Vanessa Wade

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