Health Minister Susan Sullivan. — Telegram file photo
People addicted to opiate drugs such as OxyContin aren’t waiting as long to get into the province’s methadone program.
In February, there were 180 people in the queue and they faced an 18-month wait.
As of last week, the number of people waiting was down to 34 and the delay in getting treatment was four months.
Health Minister Susan Sullivan provided The Telegram with the numbers Friday.
She attributes the reduction to the addition of a new physician at the Opioid Treatment Centre in Pleasantville earlier this year.
“We are continually making investments and making differences and I think, if anything, that particular statistic itself shows we are making significant differences,” she said.
New Democrat Gerry Rogers has previously expressed concerns about the wait times for the methadone program.
She was glad to hear the delay is now shorter and that another doctor had been hired.
“I think that’s really good news,” she said.
However, the MHA for St. John’s Centre said addiction remains a big problem and there’s still a lot to do.
She’d like a true medical detox program — which she says would involve doctors and a complete medical approach — established.
“The success rate is higher, and we still don’t have that,” she said.
As well, Rogers wants more done to address the causes of addiction, factors like poverty and homelessness.
And she’d like more done to prevent young people from becoming addicted. She suggests enhanced arts and recreation programs in schools.
“We need stuff to make them feel good about themselves,” she said.
Sullivan said tackling drug addiction and preventing it are “exceptionally important to me as minister and to my department.”
She said Health and Community Services works effectively with numerous stakeholders, including methadone program participants, to devise plans and continue dealing with the problem.
The minister noted two new interactive websites were in the works, one for youth with addiction or mental health issues and another where service providers can exchange information.
“I’ve think we’ve done a good job at looking at what kinds of specific actions now can we put in place to try to deal with this very, very significant problem in society,” she said.