Canada: Montreal Heroin Maintenance Study in Doubt after Quebec Refuses to Pay

Fresh on the success of NAOMI, the North American Opiate Maintenance Initiative, in which hardcore heroin addicts in Vancouver were given either methadone, heroin, or Dilaudid in maintenance doses, Canadian researchers announced earlier this year plans to broaden and deeper their research with SALOME, the Study to Assess Long-term Opiate Maintenance Effectiveness. SALOME was supposed to begin this fall in Vancouver and Montreal, but Quebec provincial authorities have thrown a wrench in the works.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hastings.jpg
Hastings Street, on Vancouver's East Side (vandu.org)
The Toronto Star reported this week that Quebec has balked on paying its share of the project, stopping the Montreal portion of SALOME in its tracks. The Vancouver portion, supported by the British Columbia provincial government, is set to move forth.

Quebec's refusal to pay its share -- the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are kicking in $1 million for the three-year project -- led Montreal's SALOME head researcher to charge the government with discrimination. The decision will have "disastrous consequences for people addicted to heroin and (who) don't respond to standard treatment," said Dr. Suzanne Brissette, chief of addiction medicine at Saint-Luc hospital. "There is no other treatment for these people."

NAOMI showed that heroin maintenance worked for people for whom methadone and other forms of treatment had not, she said. Had researchers found a treatment for cancer or diabetes, Quebec would not hesitate to help fund it, she added. "It's a clear case of discrimination," she said. "We have a treatment that works and they're saying, 'Sorry folks, you won't get it.'"

NAOMI researchers estimate that Canada has between 60,000 and 90,000 heroin addicts. The NAOMI trials found that addicts on maintenance heroin used less illicit heroin, committed fewer crimes, and adapted healthier lifestyles.

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What happens to the still suffering addict?

I tell you what ? More criminal acts on persons and property if this population is not treatment

We that have made it through

We that have made it through treatment must witness for the medicasl and governments to allow them to see a face of just what before and after looks of pre and post recovery

Quebec wont pay for Heroin maintenance

Why am I not surprised? It seems like every time we take one step forward someone somewhere wants to go two steps back. I have been a Harm Reduction activist (and Dopefiend) for Two DECADES now. There has been progress, certainly. And though I am here in the US (usually the last hold-out of insanity and counter-productive punitive policies in the War on Drugs) At least I'm in Massachusetts. We have Needle Exchange (though still only, officially, in four towns) A Narcan distribution pilot proram has just started. You still have to kick Methadone cold if you are incarcerated, but we're not Alabama. We all looked to Canadian Heroin maintenance as another thin end of another wedge.But we know nothing if not how to handle discouragement where the government is concerned. Just gotta keep fighting the good fight-Cheers

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