How two doctors are changing the rules in the fight against opioid addiction

Marion-Bellemare is in the fight of her life, and along with another doctor, has launched a unique program to address the tragic effects of opioids in Timmins. “Our city of 42,000 people having had death rates higher than Vancouver, higher than Toronto, it didn’t make sense,” Marion-Bellemare said. “That’s when I said wow, we have to change something here in our community. This is not right.” 


The Timmins approach is to give a monthly injection of a drug called Sublocade, which delivers an extended release of buprenorphine. Once injected, the drug forms a small lump under the skin near the abdomen and lasts for a period of 30 days. The goal of the treatment is to control the intense cravings that opioid users experience, and allow them to stop chasing their next high. 


“We don’t have time to wait for data for randomized controlled trials,” said Dr. Samson. “People are dying. We had to change what we were doing, because what we were doing initially and following the protocols wasn’t working.” “It seems to be pretty good,” Dr. Samson said. “Anecdotally, I would say probably over 70 per cent of retention to our program.”


Solving the addiction crisis is one of the toughest challenges for any town, but Marion-Bellemare and Samson aren’t giving up. The calls they’ve had from other doctors and addiction programs across the country about what they’ve done in Timmins is recognition they say helps them keep going in the fight to help their hometown.



Infectious Disease Physician

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