Pubdate: Sat, 17 Jun 2017
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Taylor Burt
Page: A1


A community session entitled Let's Talk About Opioids could have
easily been renamed Let's Talk About Methadone.

Methadone, also known as suboxone, was mentioned frequently at an
opioid awareness event Thursday night at the Simcoe Public Library.

Three individuals of varying ages, who asked that their last names not
be used, spoke about their experiences with drug addiction and how
methadone helped them stay sober.

"It gave me the opportunity to go to treatment, to go to detox, to not
withdraw," said Taylor, who says he would not be here today without
the Hope Pharmacy in Simcoe.

Kay, who now has a relationship with her family and a career, said,
"Within 48 hours of taking suboxone, I didn't have a craving."

The speakers have differing backgrounds and support systems, but all
went through the methadone program and recommended it for other addicts.

There are two methadone clinics in downtown Simcoe, which have caused
concern among some residents and businesspeople. Norfolk County
council, earlier this year, attempted to create an interim control
bylaw placing a moratorium on any additional methadone clinics in the

It's no surprise, then, that a debate arose at Thursday's event on
whether methadone is a treatment or is just replacing one drug with

"I've seen so many people come off of methadone and their lives fall
apart. They go right back on it and say they will never go off it
again," said Ann Griffin, a doctor at the Water Street Clinic. The
clinic is a drug addiction centre and the staff stand by methadone as
a short-term or long-term treatment.

Allison Tario, a pharmacist at Roulston's Pharmacy, discussed why
methadone is used as treatment for drug addiction. "Methadone is an
opioid," she said. "So, it's still the same as codeine, morphine and
hydromorphone but it's a very long acting drug, so it doesn't cause
the same withdrawal effects and it doesn't cause the same highs."

Representatives of the Hope Pharmacy located in the Water Street
Clinic explained that methadone not only stabilizes individuals and
removes the ups and downs, but also helps them get their lives back on
track. Others think it's just prolonging a relapse of drug use and
jail time.

"I've seen the same people over and over again in this cycle. What we
need to do is build more counselling centres away from here for
people," said OPP Constable Rick Feijo, explaining why he believes
methadone isn't the cure and asked for statistics on the treatment.

The information session was spearheaded by the Haldimand-Norfolk
Health Unit and included other agencies as a way to shed light on
opioids, how they are harmful and what others can do to help those
that are addicted.

Examples of opioids include codeine, morphine, hydromorphone,
oxycodone, buprenorphine, methadone and fentanyl.

Statistics from the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network show 734
people in Ontario died of an opioid-related cause in 2015. Norfolk
paramedics had 90 suspected overdose calls in 2016, and Haldimand had

People at Thursday's event also spoke about naloxone, which is used to
reverse opioid medication and is often used in overdose situations.

Tario said naloxone would not harm someone if they were given the drug
but not suffering an overdose. In an emergency situation, the dose is
the same for children and adults, making it easy for individuals to
save lives.

People are still urged to call 911 and then proceed with naloxone, as
it only lasts 30 to 45 minutes.

Naloxone kits are available at most pharmacies to those who are
current opioid users, past users, a friend or family member of a user,
part of a needle syringe program, or has been recently released from a
correctional facility.

Tario's goal is to see naloxone spray in the hands of every individual
and injections available at every school and community centre.

On May 4, 2017, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act became a law to
provide some legal protection for those who need immediate medical
attention from an overdose. The act protects anyone going through or
witnessing an overdose as well as anyone who has breached parole,
pretrial release, probation and possession.

The organizers of Thursday's session hope conversations reduce the
stigma around drug use and addiction so people are able to get
adequate help.