Methadone clinics in Windsor are struggling to keep up with the number of people coping with severe drug addictions, health officials told CBC News.
The client list at the Erie St. Clair Clinic recently reached an all-time high, reaching about 1,000 people, according to clinical lead Roberta Jarecsni.
The age range of addicts varies widely, stretching from teenagers to seniors.
Patients seeking methadone, which is a drug used to help people slowly wean themselves off stronger opioid drugs, are near "rock bottom" by the time they come to these types of clinics, Jarecsni explained.
"By the time patients seek this type of treatment, they've had a lot of losses in their lives," she said.
Methadone prescriptions, though, are just part of the treatment. Patients also need counselling and a wide support network in order to succeed, Jarecsni said.
She finds there are an increasing number of people who first became addicted because of prescription medication, particularly among seniors.
"I'm really shocked at the amount of prescription addiction that I've seen in clients," Jarecsni said.
'Lives are destroyed'
Other groups offering methadone have similar stories as the number of clients continue to rise. The age range of addicts varies widely, stretching from teenagers to seniors.
"I've seen many elderly people who have been in pain for many, many years [and] I see young people who first got their drugs from a dentist," Jarecsni said. "Lives are just destroyed."
Some youth are turning to methadone because their addictions have become too expensive, explained Dr. Jameet Bawa, the medical director of the Horizons Opioid Treatment Centre in Toronto who also works in Windsor. He too is seeing an increase in clients.
"I've seen an increase in usage all around," he said. "I've seen more and more young people seek help."