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Shayne Nelson is among 300 people on a methadone waiting list in Halifax. (CBC)

 

A 22-year-old Lower Sackville man with an opiate addiction says the province has offered him a spot in a detox program, but he doesn't think it'll help.

Shayne Nelson is one of 300 people on a waitlist to get into the methadone treatment program at Direction 180, a Halifax addictions clinic.

Nelson said when he found himself taking money from his family to buy painkillers he knew he had to stop, but detox isn't the right answer for him.

"It would have helped if I could get on the methadone maintenance program after the detoxing, but there's just no point. I've been to detox before for 13 days and two weeks later, I was right back to where I was."

The province offered him a spot in Dartmouth's Nova Scotia Hospital detox program. The average length of stay in the withdrawal unit is about five days.

Nelson said if he completed the program he would still need to get into Direction 180's methadone program.

"Still in the same situation, I'm just lucky that my doctor has given me a prescription for codeine and something else to help me wean myself down, because other than that I'd still be using every day," Nelson said.

After discharge, counselling programs are available, but Nelson said he needs something long-term.

It is not unusual for treatment waiting lists to reach 300 people long, with some clients waiting as long as four years.

About 1,400 people in Nova Scotia have a legal prescription to use methadone.

The drug is used to treat opiate addictions and works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain to take away cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms. It is taken orally, usually mixed with juice.

Dr. Bob Mullan works with patients at a similar clinic in the Annapolis Valley. He said it's not unusual to see people relapse after detox.

"Detox doesn't work for everybody. Let's face it, if it did, we wouldn't need to have opiate replacement treatment programs. Certainly detox works wonderfully for some people," he said.

Nelson said he's going to keep waiting for a spot to open at his nearest methadone clinic.