Eliminating Waitlist for Opioid Treatment

Every Nova Scotian currently waiting for treatment for opioid use disorder will be able to enter a publicly funded program within the next six months. 

Government will invest $800,000 this year to create 470 new spots in the program. This will not only eliminate the current waitlist but also add 250 more spaces in communities across the province. 

“Opioid use is a growing concern across the country – one that affects families and communities throughout our province,” said Randy Delorey, Minister of Health and Wellness. “Every Nova Scotian deserves a chance to thrive in our province. By making treatment available to more people in more communities, we are not just preventing overdoses, but also giving people the support they need to live well.”

Currently, Nova Scotians can access publicly funded treatment at these 12 sites across the province: Berwick, Dartmouth, Glace Bay, Halifax (Direction 180; includes mobile services at other metro sites), Kentville, Lunenburg, Middleton, New Waterford, North Sydney, Sydney, Truro and Yarmouth. 

To meet growing demand, NSHA (Nova Scotia Health Authority) will expand capacity at existing locations and open new locations in Antigonish and New Glasgow and on the South Shore during the next six months. 

“This will be welcome news to the people and families we work with every day,” said Cindy MacIsaac, director, Direction 180. “With more dangerous and potent opioids now available, it’s even more important to move people into treatment programs quickly. Eliminating the waitlist for treatment will save lives.” 

All programs offer evidence-based opioid therapies, methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), along with counselling and other supports. 

“Demand for treatment continues to grow, and we have an important role to play in the response by making treatment options more broadly available,” said Dr. Sam Hickcox, family physician and addictions specialist for NSHA. “This will allow us to help more people and families who are experiencing harm due to opioid use.” 

Government is also investing $70,000 this year to build a support network of addictions medicine specialists to provide telephone-based consultation to primary care providers throughout the province. The specialists will be available to physicians, nurse practitioners and other providers to consult on opioid use disorder treatment and prescribing. This will allow more Nova Scotians in rural and remote areas to access treatment in their communities. 

Government is investing about $10,000 this year to support NSHA as it begins development of specialized training for emergency department staff. This will help staff recognize the signs of opioid use disorder and to initiate care where appropriate.

The investments are part of government’s Opioid Use and Overdose Framework, released this summer. 

To access treatment through NSHA Mental Health and Addictions, visit http://www.nshealth.ca/mental-health-and-addictions-intake-phone-numbers. Direction 180 organizes its own intake for people in the Halifax area and can be reached at 902-420-0566.

For more information about the province’s work to address opioid use and overdose, visit https://novascotia.ca/opioid