Pubdate: Mon, 08 Jun 2015
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 Metro Canada
Author: Ryan Tumilty
Page: A1


Increased use a sign people seeking help, doctor says

Methadone use in the province has more than doubled over the last two
years, which health officials say is an encouraging sign for people
hoping to deal with addictions.

Dr. Michael Trew, the province's chief medical officer of health for
addictions and mental health, said while it might seem startling at
first, it's a clear sign people are working to deal with substance

"To me it's reassuring that we have increased the availability of that
treatment," he said. "People are trying to do what they can to make
this practical for people who live with this."

According to figures from Alberta Health, in the 2012-13 fiscal year,
the province spent just over $3.2 million on methadone, including
pharmacy costs and the drug itself. That number rose to $8.8 million
in the last fiscal year.

While there were slight cost increases, the majority of the increase
is coming from more users, with 5,432 people taking the treatment last
year compared to 2,128 in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The drug acts as a replacement therapy, easing addicts off heroin and
other opioids.

Last week, the province started to roll out grant payments to
needle-exchange agencies to provide a naloxone program. Naloxone is a
drug that can stop an opioid overdose and the province provided
funding following a troubling spike in fentanyl related deaths.

Trew said it's important for the province to work both on emergency
measures like that and longer term steps to get people off of their

"The safety business is really at one end of the spectrum and then it
is really a question of trying to help people get into effect
treatment," he said.

Trew said the province is working with AHS and the college of
physicians hoping to see more doctors prescribing the drug for
patients in need.

"We need to continue for ways to look at how we can continue to make
this work," he said.
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