Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jul 2009
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Colette Derworiz, Staff Writer


Return To Addiction Feared

Methadone patients and civic officials worry the loss of a clinic in
Calgary could push dozens of people back into a life of addiction
because they won't have easy access to treatment.

Second Chance Recovery, which opened in BraeCentre strip mall Tuesday,
announced a day later it will permanently close its doors in a few
weeks after community residents "intimidated" clinic staff.

It's the third time in six years the clinic has been forced out of a
community, leading its operators to conclude Calgary won't support the
facility no matter where it opens.

Patients visiting the clinic Thursday said they are concerned about
how they'll deal with their addictions once the clinic shuts.

"I don't know what it means right now," said Rick Gabrylewicz, 33, who
became addicted to OxyContin after falling seven metres at a
construction site and hurting his back. "I don't understand what the
problem is . . . I am an iron worker;I make $100,000 a year. I am just
here to get off medication."

Methadone is considered a relatively inexpensive way of getting
addicts off heroin, morphine and some prescription

Gabrylewicz, who started on methadone about five months ago, said
he'll ask his doctor if he can be weaned off of it.

"If I had to stop this stuff instantly, I'd be bedridden."

Another patient, Chris Laughren, was taking painkillers to deal with
chronic back problems before he got addicted to other drugs.

"I made some money on the stock market and I blew it on heroin," he
said. "After the money ran out, it was a 24-hour job getting the fix
for the next day.(Methadone)changed my life. I no longer concentrate
on searching for the next fix."

Laughren, 44, said he'll likely travel to Red Deer for his weekly
treatment--although he suggested it's a solution that won't work for
all patients.

Clinic staff were run off their feet Thursday as they worked to make
alternate arrangements for the clinic's 500 patients. Some will be
transferred to clinics in Red Deer, Lethbridge or Medicine Hat, while
others may be accommodated at the city's only other methadone clinic,
at the Sheldon Chumir Centre in the Beltline.

No one from the clinic, run by Alberta Health Services, responded to
requests for an interview Thursday.

But the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons said it's always a
concern when a specialized clinic closes.

"It is harder to find options for those patients," said spokeswoman
Kelly Eby. "It's not like closing just a family clinic where it might
be a little easier to find a family doctor.

"This is a very specialized needs group and they need specialized care
and physicians who know how to deliver that care appropriately."

Although there are about 60 doctors in Alberta who are permitted to
prescribe methadone, civic officials said they're worried the clinic's
500 patients could be left without proper treatment.

"We have now 500 Calgarians who are losing very, very important
treatment, 500 Calgarians who have made a commitment to overcome an
addiction, 500 Calgarians who are desperately trying to reclaim their
lives and get on with their lives," said Ald. Brian Pincott, who held
a town hall meeting this week to try to address some of the
community's concerns.

But the meeting turned hostile when no one from the clinic showed up.
Hundreds of irate residents suggested the clinic wasn't welcome in
their neighbourhood because it could lead to decreased property values
and crime.

Police said they have never recorded increased crime rates in areas
where a clinic has been located, but are concerned about the impact
its closure will have on all Calgarians.

"If these people can't continue their treatment along their road to
recovery, there are things that can happen," said police spokesman
Kevin Brookwell. "They can turn back to being addicts. For those who
may been involved in a life of crime may turn back to a life of crime
to self-medicate." 
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