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Wait times for opioid treatment drop quickly, says health authority

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says there's been a big reduction in wait times for the treatment of opioid addiction from up to six months to a week or less.

Credit given to provincial investment in staff and programs

A government investment of $800,000 has resulted in almost immediate treatment for some addicts, says the provincial health authority. (CBC)

There has been a big reduction in wait times for the treatment of opioid addiction, according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority,

A year ago, people in some parts of the province had to wait up to six months to get into a program.

Now, in the eastern zone, which includes Cape Breton and Antigonish, the wait is about a week. It's even less in the Halifax area, where waiting times have been almost eliminated.

"We have seen a significant drop in terms of our waits for people living with an opioid use disorder in a very very short period of time," said Samantha Hodder, the health authority's senior director of mental health and addictions.

Solid investment

She credited an investment by the province last November of $800,000 for added staff and expanded programs.

When that funding was announced, provincial officials estimated 221 people were on waiting lists for opioid treatment.
Samantha Hodder is the senior director of mental health and addictions for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Hodder said the system has been improved so that people are "better matched" to the treatment that is best suited for their recovery.

In the Halifax area, she said that system now includes primary caregivers, such as doctors, who are able to treat people for opioid addiction in their offices once those people have been "stabilized." That frees up treatment spaces for patients with more "complex" needs, she said.

In Sydney, Christine Porter, the executive director of the Ally Centre of Cape Breton, said there's been a definite reduction in wait times, but she still believes some people are waiting a few weeks.

She said a rapid-access program, allowing people to quickly get on opioid treatment drugs such as methadone, has been a welcome improvement.

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia