Addiction should be treated with care, not flippant manner shown by gov’t


To the Editor:

When the Conservatives win the election at the end of May 2017, they have promised not to “nickel and dime” our essential services to try and balance the budget.

Myself and a veteran detox councillor put on a presentation at the Conservative caucus in Halifax on these program changes. I’ve met Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie, Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane and Pat Dunn, MLA Pictou Centre. During the meeting they presented a portion of their platform stating there will be significantly more money for mental health and addiction services in Nova Scotia. They also promised me that they will put detox programs back in place and fix the mess that the Liberal government has made of these essential health care programs.

The new program to replace the AEP will soon be started. This program will consist of one, two-hour sessions per week for 14 weeks. These sessions will be open to the public in general. How in God’s name can two hours per week replace a program that took five eight-hour days to do in detox? Alcoholics and addicts have deep, dark issues to deal with and will certainly not open up in such a public forum; they have to be in a safe environment and feel comfortable before they open up to anyone.

I have talked to people who have worked in this field for many years and they all state that these changes just don’t make sense. At no time were they involved with any discussions on the changes being implemented.

Front line workers have a wealth of knowledge but are left out in the cold when important decisions are being made. The term “Evidence Base” has been mentioned on many occasions; I have one question to ask: Where is the evidence coming from?

For instance, in British Columbia when a person leaves detox there are dozens of safe places they can go. They can stay, take a program and in some cases, for months on end. The Nova Scotia government has no safe places like these areas but will send people home stating this is the best treatment for addiction. When “evidence base” is mentioned by people making these changes, please include all of the facts.

It is quite obvious that people making these changes know little or nothing about addictions and the changes being made could be dangerous to people fighting this disease. Treatment for addiction has never been broken in this province – why try to recreate the wheel?

I am asking your readers if they have ever had a problem or if parents, spouses or friends know of someone who may have a problem – stand up against these changes and be heard.

Like any other chronic disease, addiction should be treated with the same care, compassion and respect not with the arrogant and flippant manner shown with these new changes.

This is just another way to cut costs and nothing else. The minister of Health and Wellness should take a closer look at what is going on and the advice he is provided with. The process of addiction has not changed since time itself and the process of recovery has not changed. I would suggest that those folks giving the advice get their nose out of a book and get out in the field, see what really goes on in a detox centre, I’m sure you will not be in a hurry to change a thing.

I believe that everyone has been affected in one way or another when it comes to addiction. Please call your MLA, scream to the roof tops and let government know that you won’t stand for these terrible cuts. God forbid you or a family member may need what was offered in a detox unit.

Grant Polley

Leave a Reply