Thursday, January 24, 2008
DILAUDID IN SAINT JOHN - WHO'S LYING???? AIDS SAINT JOHN OR GOVERNMENT WORKERS AT THE SAINT JOHN METHADONE CLINIC???
Wait list for N.B. drug treatment shrinks, needle-exchange numbers rise
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 | 6:08 PM AT
The decreasing numbers on methadone treatment waiting lists in New Brunswick does not reflect the reality of the drug problem in the province, say some frontline workers.
Methadone is used to help fight addiction to opium-based drugs. In 2007, more than 600 people in the province were on the waiting list for the pharmaceutical treatment program that helps wean addicts off heroin and prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Dilaudid, Percodan and Percocet.
In Saint John, the waiting list for the treatment fell from 186 people in 2006 to 49 in 2007.
The decreased numbers stem from a new policy of removing people from the waiting list if they can't be reached.
"It's one thing to say this person's on the waiting list but if we spend three weeks trying to track you down, if we said 'I'm going to admit you' and I can't get a hold of you, you're not really on the waiting list," said Marjorie Mullin, co-ordinator at the Saint John methadone clinic.
The original list wasn't realistic and the new list reflects the number of people who are ready for treatment if they're called, Mullin said.
Health Minister Mike Murphy committed in 2007 to tackle the long waiting lists for drug treatment in the province.
Taking people off the list may make the province's drug situation look better on paper but isn't a proper solution, said Julie Dingwell, a spokeswoman with AIDS Saint John.
The removal of names amounts to the abandonment of drug addicts, Dingwell said.
"The sex-trade workers, the injection-drug users, the people who are committing thefts to get money and are in or out of jail all the time — the program isn't working well for those people," she said.
The solution to the waiting list problem is to expand the methadone program, not removing names, Dingwell said.
Many addicts end up on the waiting list for a year or more, she said, while others come into AIDS Saint John and beg to be admitted to the treatment program.
"We don't talk about the number of people that have died waiting for methadone while they've been on that bloody list," Dingwell told CBC News.
People are committing suicide, contracting hepatitis C and HIV and being sent to jail while they wait to get treatment, she said.
"Why do we think it's ethical to abandon them like this?"
Based on the number of people participating in the needle exchange at AIDS Saint John, the number of addicts in the city seems to be increasing, she said.
About 200,000 needles were given out in Saint John in 2007 while 100,000 were disturbed in the city in 2006.
In Fredericton, 74,000 syringes were handed out last year, compared to 40,000 in 2006.
"Addiction is a public health-care crisis … over 200 people [are] getting hepatitis C in New Brunswick every year and the majority of them are coming from the injection-drug use community. This is crippling our health-care system," Dingwell said.
The increase in Saint John is partially a result of more people in the city becoming addicted to crack cocaine, she said. Crack addicts can use up to 10 needles per day.
Police in Saint John said they have also noticed an increase in the amount of cocaine on the streets over the last year.
"There's no question that the amount of it and the amount of people that are using it has been steadily on the rise," said Sgt. John Wilcox.
The highly addictive drug crystal meth is not yet a problem in New Brunswick, Wilcox said, but its arrival on the East Coast is inevitable.