New addictions program in Fredericton shows positive results

Click to play video: 'Fredericton centre seeing positive results from injectable opioid agonist therapy'
Fredericton centre seeing positive results from injectable opioid agonist therapy
WATCH: New data from a recovery centre in Fredericton is showing positive results because of an alternative approach. The River Stone Recovery Centre has collected feedback from many patients in injectable opioid agonist therapy. Robert Lothian has the results. – Dec 8, 2022

New data from patients at the River Stone Recovery Centre in Fredericton points to positive results from injectable opioid agonist therapy, a first of its kind in the province.

Results from a patient survey revealed on Thursday afternoon detailed how patients have reported improved mental and physical health, less conflict, more time to pursue goals, and improvements in relationships since starting iOAT.

“There’s absolutely no quick fix for opiate use disorder. It would be lovely if people could just abstain, but if they could’ve, they would have already,” said Dr. Sara Davidson, the Medical Director at the centre.

Unlike an overdose prevention site, patients are prescribed medication and inject it under the clinic’s supervisions up to three times per day.

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The program, which opened in October 2020, currently has over 60 patients. Of those who began iOAT treatment at the program’s start, 88 per cent are still at River Stone.

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According to staff, there has been a significant reduction in criminal charges against patients, who can now access prescribed medication and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

“They tell me IOAT gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a routine to follow,” said Christine Cross, a data and research coordinator at River Stone.

Responses show while many patients continue to use illicit opioids in the early months of treatment, less than a quarter report using after 18 months. Cross noted there are some individuals who fit the stereotypes, but it’s not always the case.

“A lot have been homeless, a lot come from very traumatic childhoods, they’ve had a lot of bad stuff happen to them. We also have professionals. We have people who have never stopped working,” she noted.

An ongoing barrier for those with addictions can be finding stable housing. According to patients, only 20 per cent have housing within the first three months they are in IOAT.

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Davidson said they plan to continue lobbying the Higgs Government to provide adequate housing.

Additionally, she hopes to bring the model to other locations in New Brunswick, where there is the second highest IV drug use among all provinces.

“I would love for us to be able to expand IOAT services across the province because there are a number of people who are in more rural communities who are struggling, and I had some participants tell me recently they know about 20 people in another small community they know that would easily jump on a program like this,” Davidson said.

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