Problem overshadowed

Dear editor:
I would like to send this response as my comments to the many articles I’ve been reading about the changes to the clinic and the doctor shortage.
I agree that we are in need of some changes and that we need to address these issues quickly. I also would like to mention, however, that we have many issues in our communities that don’t seem to get much interest/attention from our community leader, including the following one.
Here are my comments:
There definitely is a health care crisis in Fort Frances and Rainy River District, but it is not just about the shortage of doctors and the need to change to a publicly-owned clinic model.
We also need to address the reality that we have a serious problem with oxycontin abuse in our communities, which is impacting teenagers, business people, mothers, fathers, seniors, and families across the district.
As a health-care provider who works with people with drug and alcohol problems, I have seen an increase in opiates users from five-10 a year who come forward with an oxycontin problem, to five-10 clients a month who come forward.
I know our already overworked doctors are doing the best they can in trying to deal with this problem. However, because of how quickly the person becomes addicted to oxycontin when they abuse it, it is very difficult for the addicted person to tolerate the withdrawal symptoms.
As a result, they often are unable to stop the drug “cold turkey,” and often require many visits with a doctor and other health-care providers—further stressing the system.
So this leads us to the true health crisis for those who are addicted to opiates.
There is no local methadone or detoxification services in Rainy River District. And accessing services in Kenora, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg often is a barrier for many who are trying to deal with this addiction when they find themselves running into the problems of long waiting lists and finding ways to get to these communities.
This is an issue that’s not likely going to improve without a community response to it, and it needs to be addressed by the services that provide health care to our communities.
Jeff Tilbury
Fort Frances, Ont.