June 26, 2013 3:43 pm

Temporary solution for Edmonton’s methadone clinic

Methadone

File photo, Global News

Edmonton – Patients who use Edmonton’s methadone clinic received some good news Wednesday.

Eight physicians are temporarily stepping in to relieve services after negotiations failed between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and three doctors who currently operate the program.

“We’re delighted that there is a plan in the making. Certainly, these patients would have been devastated if they were left to their own devices,” says addictions specialist, Dr. Charl Els.

About 540 patients use the program in Edmonton.

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Methadone is administered to outpatients recovering from substance abuse. It stabilizes users and is a safe long term treatment.

The contract between AHS and the three doctors who are employed within the program ends this month and that has patients concerned.

“Send some more money to our doctors, to our program. Have a little compassion for the guys that are really trying,” says patient Kelvin Jolicour.

Jolicour credits the program for saving his life.

AHS says it’s recruited one full time doctor and is actively recruiting others.

Health professionals say the whole situation highlights the need for more support for methadone treatment in Alberta.

Dr. Els adds the consequences could be devastating if the two sides don’t come to a long term solution.

“If patients don’t have regular, on-going, secure methadone, there’s a high possibility, high likely-hood of people ending up in emerg., possibly relapsing to the drug they used to use,” says Dr. Els.

AHS says the clinic will not close and the temporary relief will remain in place until a long term solution is found.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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