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Overdoses surge for addicts awaiting methadone treatment
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    q7w
    q7w is offline Junior Member
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    Default Overdoses surge for addicts awaiting methadone treatment

    WINNIPEG — Accidental overdoses of oxycodone and fentanyl have killed at least 25 Manitobans in the last two years, raising fears that more people will die awaiting treatment as waiting lists continue to soar.

    New data from the Chief Medical Examiner's Office reveals the number of accidental prescription opiate overdoses is on the rise. In 2008, 10 people died following accidental overdoses of oxycodone and fentanyl. Preliminary data from 2009 indicates that number rose to at least 15 last year, and some toxicology reports haven't been finalized yet.

    Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever included in such prescription drugs as OxyContin and Percocet.

    Laurie Magee, program director of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba's methadone intervention program, said at least half of the people who died from accidental OxyContin overdoses last year were on the program's waiting list.

    The continuing surge in prescription painkiller abuse has driven up the waiting list for methadone treatment, Magee said, and put an increased strain on addiction staff, who feel overwhelmed by growing pressure to treat and stabilize patients.

    There are close to 700 Manitobans on methadone, but people on the waiting list can't get in for treatment until someone drops out or has stabilized enough to get the drug from a community pharmacy.

    The number of people waiting for treatment jumped from 150 to 180 people in the last three months, raising concerns it could take longer than six to 12 months for someone to get help.

    "It sounds terrible to say, but we have (the waiting list) colour-coded. We used orange for people we got on the program, green for people who we couldn't find or got options elsewhere. And then we've got writing in there that says deceased, deceased, deceased," Magee said, leafing through the names on the program's waiting list.

    Last month, the Manitoba government restricted the number of OxyContin prescriptions doled out by physicians in an effort to reduce the supply of opiates sold on city streets, and in turn, the demand for methadone treatment services.

    However, frontline workers are still facing a steady increase in the number of Manitobans seeking help for their addictions — a trend they don't expect to plateau any time soon.

    Dr. Lindy Lee, director of Health Sciences Centre's addiction unit, said she knows of 15 people who died from opiate overdoses last year, including patients who were on a waiting list or a relative or friend of a patient she treated.

    "I think it will be a slow medical response that will take some years to gain steam," she said of recent changes announced by the government. "My numbers are still steadily going up."
    Last edited by ddcmod; 06-03-2010 at 03:12 AM.

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