10 Nov Methadone Clinic Opens in Georgetown
Area residents with an addiction to opioids will be able to find help locally to beat it with the opening of a methadone clinic in Georgetown.
The Horizons Clinic, to be located at 118 Mill St., Unit 201, is still under construction and expected to open likely in January, said clinic spokesperson Angelo Dias.
However, in the meantime, clinic owner Dr. Jameet Bawa, a family doctor with a specialty in addiction, is operating out of a private counseling room once in a week in the recently opened Georgetown Pharmacy, 118 Mill St. Unit 101.
Dias, pharmacy manager, said patients are able to receive methadone from the pharmacy if they have a valid prescription from a doctor licensed to prescribe the medication. The pharmacy provided its first methadone dose to a client on Oct. 23.
Dias said there are currently Horizons methadone clinics operating in Orangeville and Brampton. Georgetown was selected for one because he said there’s a need here. He added the Georgetown clinic will also include a walk-in/family practice.
Methadone is used to treat people who are addicted to opioids such as OxyContin, Percocet and morphine. It also helps people get off heroin.
The drug, which is prescribed by a doctor, blocks the receptors in the brain so that the patient doesn’t feel the euphoric sensations caused by their drug of choice. It also reduces the withdrawal symptoms that occur within the body when a person has stopped abusing drugs. This makes coming off drugs more bearable and comfortable for the person and greatly improves their chance of success.
Dias said they recently met with the Georgetown BIA, local businesses and councillors to let them know about the clinic.
Clients who come to the Horizons clinics are not the stereotypical image of junkies, he said.
“It’s completely ordinary people who unfortunately got hooked on it (opioids) because they were trying to treat pain,” said Dias.
He said typically it’s someone who was hurt or had surgery and started taking painkillers to deal with the pain. They build up a tolerance and end up taking more and more of the drugs eventually becoming addicted. Dias estimates that between 90 and 95 per cent of clients seen at their clinics have become addicted this way.
Methadone also helps people addicted to heroin, but Dias said heroin is not a big problem in Ontario.
“Prescription drug use is a big problem,” he said.
On average, Dias said clients are on methadone for about two years and it is “the most successful intervention available.”
“In terms of getting them out of the criminal element and helping them (clients) to integrate better socially and keeping families together it tends to work very well,” said Dias.
But he added, “some patients are unable to stick to the program because of cost, or transportation in terms of getting to the pharmacy every day or getting to see their doctor.”
Local resident Betty Lou Kristy, whose son Pete died of an accidental opioid overdose, and who has for years been calling for change and raising awareness of the devastating impacts of opioids, said the methadone clinic “is really important for our community.”
“This particular one has done all the right things,” said Kristy.
She said the Horizons team contacted ADAPT, (Halton Alcohol Drug and Gambling Assessment Prevention and Treatment), the Mississauga/Halton LHIN, as well as herself.
“They want to connect to our community services to make sure all their clients have all of the services they need for their success, that’s what’s imperatively important.”
“Unfortunately opioids have absolutely changed the landscape of what addiction looks like,” said Kristy.
She’s worried there will be a NIMBY reaction when people find out about the clinic. Dias also said they are expecting some opposition from residents and they attempt to counter that by educating residents on what they do and who they treat.
“It’s your neighbour, it’s your peer, it’s your colleague, it’s your professional, it is everywhere,” said Kristy. “What they need to understand is these are people who are finally seeking help.”
Kristy said opposing the clinic “can actually cost someone an opportunity to find their wellness… or cost someone their life.”
“I would love to think that my community of Georgetown would be more understanding that this is a health issue,” said Kristy.
Dias said anyone interested in Methadone Maintenance Treatment can come to Georgetown Pharmacy and receive methadone if they have a valid prescription.
Contact the pharmacy at 905-877-8888. Anyone interested in seeing Dr. Bawa can call the pharmacy and staff there can help them fill out the forms, or they can call Horizons (www.horizonsclinic.ca) at their toll free number, 1-855-742-9449 to book an appointment.