How The Canadian Healthcare System Is Failing To Target The Epidemic Of Drug Addicts

Drug addiction in Canada is like it is everywhere else around the globe — in epidemic proportions. Although the Canadian healthcare system is publicly funded, many who are in need of drug treatment are just not getting what they need to recover. New studies looking into average wait times for patients wanting Winnipeg drug rehab services show that the system is extremely overworked and underfunded, which might be leaving millions without the assistance they need and at increased risk of overdosing.

Wait times vary based on where you live in Canada, with some areas taking anywhere from a couple of weeks up to several months to find a spot in a rehabilitation center. That means that many aren’t getting not just the treatment they need, but the drugs that can save their lives and prevent them from death due to overdose. In some instances, drug addicts never get the treatment they need and can go years until they finally give up or can no longer make it.

Manitoba has the longest recorded average waiting period, according to data collected from the Territorial Health Ministry in 2012, with addicts waiting as long as 50-60 days. The usage crisis isn’t just about opioid use; fentanyl, a much riskier drug, is taking Canadian addicts by storm. A task force was created this past January to target it specifically, and about $370,000 was allocated just to curb fentanyl abuse among Canadian drug addicts.

The opioid crisis isn’t just affecting one population, either; it spans across all individuals without discrimination. From high school kids to housewives, it is an equal opportunity drug that has had a severe effect not just on the healthcare system, but in the lives of millions of families across Canadian provinces. Each year thousands of Canadian citizens are expected to overdose, which makes the need for more affordable and accessible treatment that much more pressing for the health ministry.

The road to addiction recovery is not an easy one, nor is it one that is successful for every addict. It usually takes a multidimensional approach, with many attempting rehabilitation more than once for them to kick the habit. The aim of those in rehabilitation circles is to find more targeted treatment programs to attain more success, but with very few resources, that is becoming increasingly difficult to do.

Some areas of Canada refuse to even keep statistics about wait times, and sweep their dirty little secret of inaccessibility under the rug. Places like Nunavut and Prince Edward Island don’t keep statistics and refuse to share any data relating to who they treat and how many people are left either underserved or not served at all.

In Alberta and British Columbia, there are to-date no in-patient rehabilitation care centers that will treat drug addicts; the Quebec health ministry, likewise, will not track drug treatment or release any data related to drug addiction and how they are handling the situation — or if they even are. All other diseases and conditions are tracked by the federal government, since healthcare is run at the government level, yet drug addiction is still not on the radar; nor has it become a sticking point or a place to focus efforts.

The only drug addiction treatment centers currently funded by the health ministry are those that target the First Nations people. There are 43 facilities that tackle drug addiction, but even in those centers no records are kept, and the amount and success of those facilities are not calculated, nor are the wait times released.

British Columbia’s statistics show that they are on target to lose as many as 800 people to drug overdose this year alone. They are the first province to declare drug addiction as an epidemic and to stand up and take notice. Whether they will be able to create lasting change and pilot better programs to help curb the staggering numbers of drug addicts in Canada remains to be seen. The problem is that drug addiction appears to have gone under the radar for so long that it is tantamount to climbing a mountain. Although it’s hard to know where to start, the number of overdose death statistics don’t lie, and it is time for the healthcare system to make accommodations before more people die needlessly.

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