Reasonable plea

A Canadian Press story which ran in the Daily Bulletin last week said prescription narcotics now top heroin as the opiate of choice among drug addicts on the streets of five major cities across the country.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising, then, that local addiction counsellors revealed Saturday that abuse of prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, and Percodan, is a real—and growing—problem in our area.
On Couchiching alone, according to Connie Peterson of Oh-Shki-Be-Ma-Te-Ze-Win Inc., 75-80 percent of those aged 13-25 are on “these pills.” The problem is so bad, in fact, that she’s been calling for the opening of a methadone clinic here to help addicts kick the habit.
Social issues like these are always tricky to deal with. Back in 1990, the local public school board stirred up controversy over whether condom machines should be installed in the bathrooms at Fort Frances High School.
On one side was the argument that it would help teens practise safe sex. Others argued it would simply promote promiscuity.
Then about 10 years ago, there was a heated debate here over offering a needle exchange program. Was that condoning drug abuse, or a pro-active approach to ensure those engaged in such behaviour did so as safely as possible—both for their sake and the community at large?
A methadone clinic alone is not going to curb the problem of prescription drug abuse here, but it’s a reasonable plea—given the apparent scope of the problem and the long waiting list to be referred to places like Kenora or Winnipeg for help with the addiction.
At the very least, it’s time to acknowledge the problem exists and that solutions are needed fast. Burying our heads in the sand in hopes it goes away is not an answer.