Pubdate: Tue, 28 Nov 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Candice G. Ball
Page: 9
Series: Let's Talk Drugs - Part 4 of 5


Adam Watson didn't want to break his parents' hearts, and he did not
want to die, but after battling opioid addiction for six years, he
became the victim of a system woefully ill-equipped to help him.

Adam tried a methadone program, he attempted to detox at the Main
Street Project, he saw family physicians, he ended up in emergency
four times in the throes of withdrawal, and he met with a counsellor
at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM). None of the treatment
options or resources gave Adam the support he needed.

He died alone in the basement of his parents' Riverview home from an
accidental fentanyl poisoning on February 6, 2016, at age 27. His
brother found him and had to break the news to his parents, Christine
Dobbs and Lang Watson, who were on vacation.

A year before Adam died, he wrote a note to his parents and admitted
he was out of control. "I love you and I am just trapped in a bad
place. I'm not this person and I know that this is the end of the
line," he wrote. "You are all I have. I love you so much. Don't give
up on me please."

His parents never gave up on him and did everything they could to get
help for Adam. In 2010, after Adam told his parents about his
addiction, they first turned to Dr. Lindy Lee at the Health Sciences

Dr. Lee, who passed in 2014 from cancer, had a reputation as a
forward-thinking maverick on the frontier of opioid addiction.

Adam could not get treatment for two weeks due to a bottleneck in the
system. He did get into see the doctor, but the treatment path they
discussed did not work for Adam.

At the time, doctors could not prescribe Suboxone, a drug that is
widely regarded as more effective than methadone. The Manitoba
government announced on June 26, 2017, that Suboxone will be covered
under Manitoba's Pharmacare program.

Doctors can now prescribe Suboxone if they have completed the
requisite training.

Adam did have some success with the methadone program, but when he
started an apprenticeship to become an electrician with Mr. Electric,
he didn't want to have to make the daily trek to the methadone clinic
and he didn't want his employer to know about his addiction.

"He felt he needed to hide it. He was ashamed and the methadone
program provided no other options. As a result, Adam started taking
opiates again," his mother said.

His mother estimates that he spent up to $30,000 a year on OxyContin
and hydromorphone. The escalating prices drove him to fentanyl, which
is cheap and readily available.

Before Dobbs and her husband went on vacation in 2016, she told her
son that she loved him. "You better be here when I get home," she said.

Since Adam's death, Christine Dobbs and Lang Watson replay the last
six years of his life. Should they have pushed Adam harder to go into
a private treatment centre even though he said he wouldn't go because
he didn't want his parents to spend the money.

What they do know for certain is that there was no continuum of care
to combat opioid addiction when Adam needed help. "People withdrawing
need rapid access to care," said Dobbs.

"A 30-day addiction treatment program will not be effective for opioid
addictions. They need medically supervised detox, six months to a year
of treatment, and ongoing support once they are drug-free."

Dobbs and Watson will continue to tell Adam's story with the goal of
breaking the silence and combatting the stigma so many addicts and
their loved ones face. "We have to be our kids' voices," said Dobbs.
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