Methadone only a part of drug addiction treatment: Little

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Most physicians in Nova Scotia are not licensed to administer methadone treatment because they do not have the necessary education, training or experience, according to Dr. Cameron Little.

Most physicians in Nova Scotia are not licensed to administer methadone treatment because they do not have the necessary education, training or experience, according to Dr. Cameron Little.

In fact, the registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia said to properly treat drug addiction requires much more than just prescribing methadone, but a team approach involving physicians, psychologists, social workers and others.

"(Methadone) is part of the general treatment for addiction, not an actual treatment for addiction," he explained. "It provides the addict with an opioid which is long-acting so they only have to take it once a day to keep away the cravings. But it should be administered within a program for the whole treatment of the addiction."

The issue arose locally when drug addicts William Lank and Dennis White went public with their plight due to the lack of methadone treatment in the local area. They have had to travel to Wolfville to receive treatment from a licensed physician there, but do not always have transportation available.

The Cumberland Health Authority has applied for funding to offer a local program through Addictions Services, but thus far the only such programs in the province are in Halifax and Sydney.

"We know there is a need but until a program is approved (for here) by the Department of Health, there is no sense in having someone locally involved," said Cumberland Health Authority spokesperson Ann Keddy. "There's much more to it than just prescribing methadone."

Methadone has very complicated pharmacology and can be very dangerous if in the wrong hands, according to Little, who said it could be diverted, sold and place users at risk of overdose and even death.

"It needs to be within a program… not just simply somebody to give them a script to go away with methadone," he said. "That will lead to more problems than you're trying to solve."



awagstaff@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: College of Physicians, Cumberland Health Authority, Addictions Services Department of Health

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Wolfville, Halifax Sydney

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