Wednesday, April 15, 2015


We have a new DPNC Member who lives in Toronto and, as a young man interested in addictions issues, is putting himself on a steep learning curve by investigating people and places involved in addictions. 

His name is Amir Parekh.

Please read this excellent brief report. and, if you feel so inclined, congratulate him for his observations.

Business, Not an Addiction treatment Center

On a Sunday afternoon, on March 29, 2015, I took the liberty to explore a methadone clinic. A quick Google search pulled up ACT methadone clinic. I headed east on Bloor street to 1288 Danforth Ave. The street was not busy when I arrived at the clinic. It was not hard to miss. “Now Accepting patients”, “No waiting list” caught my attention almost immediately as I drove past it.  

I walked in to explore the atmosphere of a methadone clinic. To my surprise, it was a barren and blank 100 sq. ft space with 9 chairs. From the moment I walked in I had a feeling of being in a business, not an addiction treatment facility. There were no brochures, posters, reading materials, or counselors readily available. The addict/customers were lined up at the window and business was booming. I waited in the waiting area for 15 minutes listening to what people were saying and doing. Most were impatiently waiting for their fix. After not being greeted and seeing no clear instructions I walked up to the pharmacy counter and explained to the pharmacist  “I am a student, doing some research and wanted to take 5 minutes of your time to discuss what you are doing here”. “Go to the other window” the man expressed, as he was not interested in speaking with me. 

The second window had a receptionist who was not very helpful, and was bitter in attitude.  I explained to her the purpose of my visit and she requested that I receive ‘written consent’ from everyone in the clinic, before we could discuss the clinic. As this was clearly not required, I kept digging by asking very general questions, until she got frustrated and called over a manager. The regional manager, who has had no addiction counseling experience or training, explained the 2.5 year cycle that is prescribed to addicts. They start with supervised dosage in the clinics, and as time lapses the addict is able to take their medicine home. The concentration of the dosage is lowered with time and regular urinal tests are performed to monitor the progress of the treatment. What’s unique about ACT methadone clinic? Well, it cycles its patients of methadone clinic in comparison to other methadone clinic which keep their patients on methadone for life which can be a costly endeavor. “Most of the information is available on the website” ended the brief interview.

Most addiction treatment services such as Alpha House or Narcotics Anonymous rave about their success and foster a very busy, open, loving and caring environment. Everyone is welcome and every one could and should share. This is meant for the addicts to not only replace their addiction with meaningful activities but to face their demons that lead them to the dark path of addiction in the first place.  This translates into an addict developing core strengths, a strong foundation and a very deep and meaningful support structure. In the few interviews I have conducted with addicts, one theme is a constant. “Okay. I stopped doing drugs, Now What?” The “Now what” can be the answer between relapse leading to irrational behavior, criminal in bulk, or a clean, sober and productive life. 

A study conducted to analyze costs for patient clinic visits, laboratory test for urine toxicology screening and methadone scripts for 9479 patients in Ontario yielded the following results. The data set represented information from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2009."There were 6,425,937 patient-days of treatment and the total cost of all treatment-related services was approximately $99,491,000. The total cost was comprised of physician billing (9.8%), pharmacy costs (39.8%), methadone (3.8%), and performing urine toxicology screens (46.7%). The average cost per day in treatment was $15.48, corresponding to $5651 per year if patients were to remain in treatment continuously.”[1] As of 2009 it cost $5651 per year for an addict to be on methadone, but it is estimated to be at $8476 per year, a 50% increase, as of 2015. In essence a good (Non-Lifer) methadone clinic that plans to “rehabilitate” an addict in Ontario provides a treatment plan that costs $21,190 to the tax payers and takes 2.5 years. 

In conclusion, though the government believes methadone clinics to be an effective route to heal addiction, there simply is no foundation or support that these programs provide thus making the results of these programs temporary at the very best. Mostly, if addicts don’t relapse they will likely be addicted to methadone just like any other drug they were previously addicted to.  These clinics lack oversight, control and regulation. The negative impact of methadone clinics is well documented and this is a going concern for the addicts and society in general. Our precious tax dollars ought to be allocated to programs and initiatives that are proven to work, instead of experimenting with programs such as Methadone clinics that are designed to make addicts comfortable and are based on ideologies instead of an evidence based approach which requires hard work, Love and Discipline.

[1] S. Zaric, G., W. Brennan, A., Varenbut, M., & M. Daiter, J. (2012, July 11). The cost of providing methadone maintenance treatment in Ontario, Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

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