Investments expand opioid addiction treatment
Opioid addiction is one of the most daunting challenges a person can face. Thankfully, on Prince Edward Island, people with opioid dependencies don’t have to face their challenges alone.
Chris Craig with the REACH Foundation in Stratford helps young adults with addictions get treatment and provides them with training to develop life and employability skills, while in recovery, to help them build more stable lives.
“The majority of our participants at REACH deal with, or have dealt with opioid addiction. We find in many cases it’s because prescription drugs end up in the hands of youth on Prince Edward Island,” Craig said. “It may be the hardest thing they’ll ever have to deal with and once it takes hold it’s hard to overcome it.”
Craig said access to treatment and support is one of the biggest barriers to overcoming opioid use. That's why the federal and provincial governments recently announced more than $1 million to improve peer support networks, telehealth services and to make it easier for people to access opioid replacement programs.
Opioid replacement therapy allows someone a period of clarity, some time with a clear mind to get traction and seek help.
“With easier access to treatment, with telehealth improving access for people outside the major centres, and the peer support system being implemented, we will see more people in our system getting the help they need,” Craig said.
Jordan Brown, PEI’s minister of Justice, Public Safety and Attorney General, said he’s seen the improvement effective treatment can bring to a person with opioid addiction.
“As a lawyer, 13 or 14 years ago I represented a young person with an addiction issue. He went through a very rough period where he lost access to his daughter, was unable to hold down work and turned to crime,” Minister Brown said. “A couple of years ago, this young man was one of 600 or so people on the methadone program and he started back to work, and had access to his daughter from time to time. He was able to get up in the morning with ambition to move toward something positive in his life.”
Lorna Hutt, manager of Community Mental Health and Addictions West, said she was happy to see the expansion in addiction services. She said serious drug addiction is a more common problem than many people realize and the improved services will be put to good use.
“Around 1,000 people are accessing this service,” she said. “Substance abuse doesn’t discriminate. We see people with varying backgrounds using our services. It offers them a chance to live a happy, healthy life with the added support provided by the opioid replacement program.”
The opiate replacement program operates in four clinics across the province: Montague, Mount Herbert, Summerside and Charlottetown.