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Strategy for Battling OxyContin Addiction Backfiring

One Canadian province thought it had the right idea on how to combat the growing problem of OxyContin addiction. However, that strategy seems to be backfiring.

Last year officials in Manitoba issued a decree stating that only people in intense pain, such as cancer patients, could get a prescription for the powerful pain killer. They figured the fewer people who had the drug, the fewer people could become addicted.

"It's shortsighted. They want to deal with the immediate problem, which is access to OxyContin, but you don't think of the fallout," said Robert Graham from Two Ten Recovery.

That fallout includes people so desperate for OxyContin that they are robbing pharmacies to steal the pills.

Nicole Verhaeghe's pharmacy has been held up three times during the past year. "It was quite terrifying – even thinking about it now is quite scary," said Verhaeghe.

Officials thought since the drug would not be readily available, people would flock to rehab to get help. However, there is a long wait time, upwards of a year, to get treatment.

"The waiting period - what are they supposed to do during this time? The sickness is horrid," said Graham.

Despite the criticism, Manitoba officials insist the new system has been successful.

"When you're looking at a complex situation, you're not going to come up with a one-size-fits all quick answer. It's a long-term process. We're coming to a long-term solution that will make a difference," said Jim Rondeau, the province's minister of health living.

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