Pubdate: Tue, 14 Feb 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Sarah Petrescu
Page: A4


A Victoria mother said she was desperate when she took her daughter to
buy "street" methadone after being told it would take two weeks to a
month to get a proper prescription.

"To our dismay, we have an addicted daughter asking for help and we
are forced to buy some street drugs like a common criminal to keep her
going until we can get her some help," said Correne Antrobus in a
letter to the Times Colonist. "We have been waiting for this
opportunity to help our daughter before she overdoses and the window
is very slight when an addict is asking for help."

The Antrobus family is likely not alone. There are a limited number of
doctors in the province who prescribe methadone and it is unclear how
many there are in Victoria.

Methadone is a controlled substance and requires federal authorization
through the B.C. College of Physicians by application and after training.

Dr. Ailve McNestry, deputy registrar responsible for drug programs at
the College, said there are about 200 to 300 doctors with the

Despite an overdose crisis in the province, "unfortunately, I don't
think we've had an increase," McNestry said. At least 914 British
Columbians died in 2016 from overdoses, the worst year on record.

McNestry said the college is trying to encourage more doctors to get
training for addictions medicine.

"Outside the Lower Mainland, there is a shortage of physicians who
focus on addictions medicine," she said.

There are two addiction specialty clinics in Victoria that offer
methadone and suboxone programs, the two main drugs to treat
opioid-addicted patients. The Pandora Clinic has nine parttime doctors
who see about 800 to 850 patients. After new patients go through a
urine test, questionnaire and lab results they are added to the
waitlist to see a doctor for a methadone or suboxone prescription. The
other, Outreach Services Clinic on Gorge Road, is open for limited
hours three days a week.

Both drugs reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms from illicit
opioids. Suboxone is more accessible since it does not require an
exemption to prescribe and it comes in a pill form, rather than
liquid, that doesn't require frequent visits to the pharmacy. But it
does not work for everyone.

McNestry said the current crisis was 20 years in the making, a result
of overprescribing opioids, as well as sedatives and stimulants. The
College started a prescription review and education program, "to
hopefully prevent another wave," McNestry said.

The provincial government has announced the B.C. Centre for Substance
Use will develop new guidelines for treating opioid addictions; they
are to be released in June.

Future plans for better treatment options are not much consolation to
the Antrobus family, who are hoping their eldest daughter can get help
and get on with her life.

"I know it's not the government's fault if your child is an addict.
But there is not a lot of help out there," Correne said. "We just want
a prescription. My hope is that she can get in a methadone program and
start a normal life again."
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