Port City Pharmacy

A new methadone clinic in Saint John's north end is trimming the waitlist for treatment in the city. (Facebook)

AIDS Saint John says a new methadone clinic in the city’s north end is cutting wait times for people needing treatment to about a week.

Diane Kerns, the needle exchange co-ordinator for AIDS Saint John, said there are more than 700 people using methadone in the city.

She said there was a time when there were hundreds of people waiting for methadone treatment. 

Kerns said the new north-end clinic means people, who are in need of help, are getting methadone quickly.

"I hesitate to say that they eliminated the wait list. But they have made it accessible, so that I can phone and within about a week or so, have somebody seeing a doctor and accessing methadone," she said.

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Methadone is a drug used to treat people with addictions to opiate drugs such as heroin and morphine. (Canadian Press)

Methadone is a drug used to treat people with addictions to opiate drugs, such as heroin and morphine.

When Richard McLaughlin, the owner of Port City Pharmacy, and his business partner opened the north-end methadone clinic in May, they knew there was a need in the city.

"Me and the other pharmacist have worked with it before and we knew there was still a wait list in the city. So we thought we'd try to help out with that and give people access to treatment," he said.

Methadone programs have been strongly supported by the city’s police force.

Saint John Police Chief Bill Reid is a well-known advocate for methadone treatment programs. He said crime has dropped significantly since access to methadone services was expanded several years ago.

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Saint John Police Chief Bill Reid, an advocate for methadone treatment programs, has said these initiatives have reduced crime in the city. (CBC)

The new methadone clinic is also working closely with other health facilities in the city.

Cynthia Boyd, the manager of Ridgewood Addictions Services, said Horizon Health has been working with the new north-end clinic.

"There will also be people who will are continuing with [the] uptown [clinic] and continuing here, who would utilize that clinic to get their methadone and would continue to see the doctors that are at [the] uptown [clinic] and are here. So it's a nice partnership,” she said.

Though more clinics are a good thing, Boyd said she would like to see more doctors licensed to prescribe methadone.