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LETTER: We need clear vision of how we intend to meet addiction challenges

Comprehensive street-level strategy required
OATC methadone clinic. David Helwig/SooToday

SooToday received the following letter from R. Maloney regarding the story about the downtown addiction clinic and its new landlord.

This is a response to Kenneth Armstrong's story that was published on April 5 entitled "Vocal Critic of Downtown Addiction Clinic Now Its New Landlord."

I’ll begin by applauding current efforts to revitalize downtown Sault Ste Marie. I, like many others, look forward to a day when I can wander more freely around the central core, socialize with friends and family, and show guests all the things that our community can be truly proud of.

On the flip side, the realities of homelessness, social isolation, poverty, and addiction in our city must be acknowledged. We need an equally clear vision of how we intend to meet these challenges.

The Level 2 Withdrawal Management Facility that is slated to open on Old Garden River Road is an important step forward. This solution, however, will fall short in terms of addressing the needs of the community.

As a prescribing physician working out of the OATC and RAAM clinics, I can testify that good care is being rendered downtown - not only through our efforts but through the activities of many other agencies and organizations engaged in addiction treatment. These efforts, however, also fall short of what is required of us.

We need to evolve a comprehensive street-level strategy that encompasses elements of addictions care, primary medical and nursing care, food security, housing, and skills training. In my view, the ideal location for such a “therapeutic neighbourhood” is not in the downtown core but certainly one that is easily accessed by most addicted individuals who require this degree of support.

Realistically, even creating a “therapeutic community” for the most unstable of our citizens will not completely resolve the problems of rampant overdose, addiction-associated crime, and death. But, like any other worthwhile endeavour, it would be another step in the right direction.

Rocket science? I think not.

R. Maloney

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