M’Chigeeng’s response to methadone emergency exemplary

The methadone treatment program remains in the news as the Northeast Council heard a delegation from the Manitoulin Addictions and Mental Health Partners Committee last week that urged elected officials to a benevolent view on any further treatment centres within the town.

The town is in the process of passing enabling bylaws that would see any future clinics of the same nature subject to site-specific criteria and the neighbouring Township of Assiginack is passing very similar legislation, at least on an interim basis.

Meanwhile, M’Chigeeng First Nation has moved ahead to establish a clinic where members of the community can visit their specialist physician in Mindemoya, acquire their methadone drinks at the pharmacy in the same community and receive the counseling they will need to help end their dependency close to home through the M’Chigeeng Health Centre.

Clearly the closure of the Little current clinic site on the town’s front street has caused serious dislocation to people who have come to rely on it for the past three years, many of whom are now travelling to Espanola and Sudbury clinics, at least in the short run.

The community of M’Chigeeng, including its administration, elected officials and health providers, must be congratulated for acting promptly to put a system in place that seems, if anything, less onerous to its clientele than the old model that saw a single treatment centre in one community, Island wide.

The topic is a delicate one and the issue on Manitoulin is merely a snapshot of dependency issues that affect communities large and small the length and breadth of Canada.

The M’Chigeeng model, that the community simply moved ahead to create, must be viewed as exemplary. People are treated close to home for their dependencies and in their home community receive vital assistance to move away from those same dependencies.

The issue will be with us for some time to come, no doubt, but hopefully we will be able to look forward to a series of freestanding clinics with associated counseling services just as the M’Chigeeng model demonstrates.

It would seem that if people can be dealt with closer to home there will be far fewer interruptions to education, family life and employment and if, as in M’Chigeeng, counseling can be provided in the home community or very close to it, this should help to reinforce the benefit of the freedom associated with a dependency-free life.

People’s families, it is clear, want to help with this process. The closer people remain to caring family members through all stages of the rehabilitation process it would make sense the more effective this process will be.


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