Situation remains critical: addict

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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William Lank has been given some relief for his opiate addiction, but remains concerned about the general lack of support for local addicts.

Lank, who has been addicted to opiate drugs for about 20 years, made his story public recently after being refused treatment at the local hospital. Since that story appeared he was provided with temporary relief by one doctor, and was later prescribed with pain medication.

Situation remains critical: addict

William Lank has been given some relief for his opiate addiction, but remains concerned about the general lack of support for local addicts.

Lank, who has been addicted to opiate drugs for about 20 years, made his story public recently after being refused treatment at the local hospital. Since that story appeared he was provided with temporary relief by one doctor, and was later prescribed with pain medication.

But he remains vigilant about the situation, knowing there are many others out there not so lucky, like his friend Dennis White, who he said has been bed-ridden due to withdrawal.

"It is a serious problem, and it's not going to go away until somebody does something about it," he said.

Lank referred to all of the complaints about crime in Nova Scotia, and said half of these crimes are being committed by people who have to resort to stealing to support their addictions.

For example, he said he has seen a decrease in local crime since addicts in the Amherst areas have begun traveling to Wolfville to receive methadone treatment from a physician there.

"I've been on the streets a long time," he said. "I know half the narcotics drugs like pills and prescription drugs are not even being sold here anymore. Crime has gone down. Everything has gone down."

Mike Pettigrew is one of several local addicts who have been making the trip to Wolfville to see Dr. Bill Doran. The government pays for his travel costs to get there, and he pointed out that would not be necessary if the service were provided locally.

He does not believe that doctors have to undergo a rigourous training process to become licensed to prescribe methadone, describing Doran as just a regular family doctor "compassionate" enough to treat them.

Compassion is something many people need to learn about drug addiction, according to Donna-Jo Harkness, another local addict who makes the six-hour trip to Wolfville every month.

"It's not a habit, it's a disease," she said. "When I was in Grade One and the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, I didn't raise my hand and say I wanted to be a drug addict, and hurt people and be this sick."

Pettigrew is trying to round up the names of all local addicts in his situation to meet with Cumberland North MLA Ernest Fage to discuss the matter.



awagstaff@amherstdaily.com

Geographic location: Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Amherst

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  • martha
    January 18, 2010 - 10:51

    I live in Alabama in the U.S.; way down south almost to the Gulf of Mexico. I also am a methadone patient.

    I applaud your efforts to seek the treatment you need. Methadone is the greatest medication made to treat opiate addiction. Keep up the good work and I will keep you in my prayers and also those who can't, for whatever reason, get there and sign up.

    Down here we try to explain to people that taking methadone to treat addiction is liking taking insulin if you are a diabetic.