Sunday, January 30, 2011

Drug overdose in Prison

Well this is rather bizarre. Some interesting information was revealed when reporting on a recent drug overdose by an inmate in a Maple Ridge prison. We know there are drugs in prison because Peter Adiwal was caught selling cocaine in prison and he didn't get a day added on to his sentence.

England has a real problem with drugs in prison too. They are trying to address the problem by confronting the large number of corrupt prison guards. Our problem is worse than that. It revolves around corrupt if not stupid politicians.

Robbie Slatten, the inmate who died of the methadone overdose, was not registered on the methadone maintenance program. The review suggests the nurse was tricked because Slatten accessed the photo I.D. of his cellmate, who was on the methadone program. A medical alert stating Slatten should never be housed with methadone inmates was not observed by staff.

Methadone maintenance program? What the hell is that? Our prisons are overcrowded because of a lack of funding. We're in a world wide recession where whole countries are going bankrupt. We are closing hospitals and schools to make up the shortfall. At the same time we are spending taxpayers money on drugs for inmates in prison. Can you believe that? That is the most insane thing I have ever heard.

Other countries have a problem with corrupt prison guards letting inmates smuggle drugs into prison. We top that. Our government is bringing the drugs in for them and we the taxpayers are footing the bill while we close hospitals and schools. That is called shooting yourself in the foot and is a prime example of how screwed up our government really is. Where is the public accountability and the financial reporting of this taxpayer paid program?

Turns out the guy who OD'd in prison used his cell mate's ID to get methadone from the government program while he was in prison. That methadone killed him. That is seriously messed up.


  1. Drug addiction is a disease. You can not take away peoples medicines that will help them with their disease, whether they are incarcerated or not. Not everyone in the jails that is on a Methadone program is a "hard core druggie" that is on Methadone because they were poking their arms with Heroin. Many are on Methadone now for unknowingly getting addicted to medically prescribed opiates, others have been on Methadone before they get incarcerated from serious injuries. Methadone is still prescribed quite regularly for people with chronic pain from serious injuries, so when they go to jail this should be taken away from them? Should HIV and Aids patients lose their medicines, what about incarcerated cancer patients?

    So what should the government do with inmates on methadone? Take it away from them and make them suffer?

    I have been enjoying your blog the last few weeks since i discovered it but you are way off base on your Methadone post. Methadone also keeps the "hard core druggies" and the addict criminals well behaved. Should they take away this methadone so when they do get out of prison they go out and rob a store to get money to buy drugs? Its not like these guys and girls in prison are getting "high" off the Methadone, as methadone has ZERO "exuberant" effects for people who take it regularly.

  2. Methadone is not cancer medication. That is the exact insane argument that has got us is this ridiculous situation where we are buying drugs for prison inmates while we are closing hospitals and schools for the general public.

    The intent of a methadone program was to wean people off the drug. That is not happening. In that interview of that girl from East Van, she claims she has been on the methadone program for years and they actually increased the dosages instead of decreased it.

    It is a corrupt system founded on insanity that is bound and determined to perpetuate insanity at the taxpayer’s expense. We need to draw lines not do lines. The sad reality is, this guy who OD’d in prison died because of the methadone program.

    1. Methadone is as cheap as chips. Surely you wouldn't begrudge a junkie the two cents per milliliter it costs to prevent some crime.

    2. It's not the cost it's the absurdity of it all as well the risk of fatalities of people scamming the drug from the government paid for system.

  3. I would have to agree with bilko.

    Agent K, what data are you basing your opinion on? Just because "that girl in that interview" said that the program isn't working doesn't make it so. When dealing with a controversial form of addiction treatment it helps to look at the issue from all angles. There are, without a doubt pros and cons to this program, that should be explored before you condemn the program alltogether. If there were no benefits, the program would have been scraped by now. I'm not saying that you are 100% wrong or right, I am saying its not as simple as you make it out to be.

    Also, you claim that the politicians and officials that administer this program are corrupt? Do you basis do you have for these claims?? Public accounting is available, its a public program, it has to be. Ask and you shall recieve.

    Another point, your claim that the methadone program killed a man, that the guy died because of the mehadone program is absurd. Are you also claiming that any person that obtains oxycontin illegially and dies has been killed by the Canadian healthcare program? How about ppl that obtain morphine illegally and die overdoses? Is the Canadian government responsible for that?

    The methadone program provides ppl with this drug, so long as it can benefit the patient. People will inevitably find a way around the safe guards of this system, and obtain it illegally, as they do with every other controlled substance in the world. By your logic every death attributed to improper use of oxycontin by individuals that obtain it fraudulently from medical centers is the result of a corrupt system.

    You acknowlege that Mr. Slatten's file advised that he should not be paired with anyone involved with the system. The Methadone program didn't decide which cell this guy should live in. A guard, or prison official (that would have nothing to do with the Methadone prog)did a piss poor job. They screwed up, not the system. Then Mr. Slatten illegally obtained the drug! How is any of this related to the system? a guard/administrator screwed up, and a guy illegally obtained drugs, then OD'd. Thats all.

  4. I am saying that the methadone program as we know it is completely screwed and this fatality is yet another example of how screwed up it really is. Even the brother of the deceased inmate claims they tried to cover up the facts surrounding his brother’s death.

    There is no public accountability in this program. Most taxpayers have no idea it even exists. It’s just the extremists and the medical doctors who get paid to promote it that scream harm reduction over and over until we become enablers that buy drugs for addicts. No medical doctor in their right mind would prescribe alcohol for alcoholics.

    The extremists who want to legalize every drug under the sun and have taxpayers buy it for them have every right to make their own blogs and support groups just as I have the right as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer to record my dissent and say I disagree. We can argue about it until the cows come home. The bottom line is that I disagree with the program and that is my right. It is not publically accountable and needs to be examined much more closely than it currently is.

    This is that girl in the interview and she probably got in a lot of trouble for leaking that information out to the public:

    If the Canadian health care system is buying oxycontin for addicts then it too is guilty of murder and needs to be reassessed. To my knowledge, doctors fill out a bogus prescription for it and people sell it from that prescription. If the person is on welfare and the government buys the oxy for him then OMG that system needs to be reassessed. No wonder our sacred medical system is becoming over burdened. And let’s not forget about the people on the program who sell the methadone they get and buy heroin with the money they got from selling their free methadone.

    People need housing not drugs.

  5. The system tried to keep drugs away from this guy though. He went around it.

    The healthcare system in canada keeps oxy away from those. Ppl fill out fake perscriptions, with out doctor's help. Ppl steal it from those that have it legally.

    Ronnie stole dope that wan't intented for him. How can be system be blamed? you want info on the program??

    there is public accountability. IT IS A FEDERAL PROGRAM. Just becuase you haven't tried to fine them doesn't mean the documents aren't there. Contact your MP. Just because it isn't on the internet doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The auditor general's office is required to keep tabs on exactly this kind of stuff.

  6. But methadone maintenance has been proven to work in getting addicts who use crime to support the habit off the drug. The withdrawals from H. are so horrifying that most people can't make it without help. Why not help people stop taking heroin, Agent K? Do you just want them to keep harming society with crime?

    Agent K, do you support the nicotine "patch?" The nicotine gum, etc.? It's no different than methadone. We take sensible steps to help societies' addicts get off their harmful drugs.

    Now, no Government program is perfect; and I do agree with some of your criticisms of the methadone program; loads of specific problems that need to be addressed. The many DTES "hotels" that force addicts to buy their meth. from the "hotels" associated pharmacy; doctors who up doses for no reason and Doctors who don't constantly work with every addict to lower their dose. It's far too easy to get on the program. The re-selling of the meth. that is a major business now in itself. Everyone's making money off this drug's mis-use; the meth. clinics that just robo-write the scripts, with no care at all for the "patient". The DTES pharmacies that pay out $10 cash, every Friday, if you choose them for "daily" doses...that's a $10 rock every Friday for the crack people. The dealers hang out in the alleys right behind the pharmacies; no one does anything. Everyone's making cash, Agent K; the clinics, the doctors, the pharmacies, the crack-dealers; its too good a cash-cow to stop!

  7. Yes I support the use of the patch to get off cigarettes. However the methadone program is more than just imperfect, it’s corrupt. As you say, the business of scamming the system is rampant. I just have inherent problems with using tax dollars to buy addicts drugs when our medical system is already over burdened.

    People don’t stay on the patch for years on end and they don’t increase the dosage of the patch after someone starts the program. The purpose of the patch is to get people off the addiction. Yes heroin withdrawal is horrific and yes I could see how small doses of methadone on a very short term basis in decreased amounts would help over come the addiction. However, that is not what we are seeing. Thus the name methadone maintenance program. They are maintaining the addiction not overcoming it.

    I have a friend who was an alcoholic. He had a couple of impaired charges and to the courts surprise ended up taking the jail time instead of the fine so he could get clean. He described the DTs he went through in jail and how when you’re coming off heroin you feel like you’re going to die but how you might die when coming off an alcohol addiction cold turkey. That prison term without drugs or alcohol saved his life.

    I agree some of the doctors and pharmacists are just as corrupt as the crack dealers making it a huge problem dripping with corruption. Reselling methadone and now reselling oxycontin. I didn’t even think that the government might actually be paying for bogus oxycontin subscriptions that end up being sold on the street. Those doctors and pharmacists are totally tied to the corruption. That cash cow is a tax drain on society.

  8. You are right, Agent K, and here's something your readers may have missed about widespread methadone abuse in the DTES:

    "Methadone users on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside say they have been kicked out of their Hastings Street hotel for not getting their prescriptions filled exclusively at the hotel."

    "Twin brothers Randy and Daniel Howery, who are on methadone to treat their heroin addictions, say they are getting no support from the agency dealing with landlord and tenant disputes, which has ruled the residence is technically a recovery house, not a hotel, so the evictions cannot be challenged."

    "The brothers were renters at the Palace Hotel and were evicted by pharmacist George Wolsey, the landlord's representative, for not getting their prescriptions filled exclusively at the hotel, the brothers' lawyer Laura Track told CBC News."

    "Wolsey is an acting director of the Wilson Recovery Society. The Residential Tenancy Branch ruled the Palace is a recovery house for addicts, exempting it from laws protecting tenants."

    Pharmacist Wolsey is a notorious legal drug-dealer who makes huge money out of his methadone "hotels."

    More from the CBC on methadone abuse:

    "Back in 2008, a maelstrom of media attention fell upon methadone pharmacies in the Downtown Eastside following allegations of widespread corruption and cash kickbacks."

    "Due to the ubiquitous nature of the methadone maintenance program (thousands of neighbourhood addicts use the drug while PharmaCare foots the bill), competition among pharmacies is fierce. Allegedly, several pharmacies routinely offered cash incentives to methadone users in exchange for their prescriptions—a violation of PharmaCare’s “no inducement” policy."

    "According to street chatter, covert cash kickbacks still take place. And the brazen distribution of free coffee and cookies—a PharmaCare violation—continues."

    Pharmacare just will not step up and control the pharmacies; and the "College" of Pharmacists is of course....composed of pharmacy owners! They are making staggering profits here; daily dispensing means daily pharmacy fees; it's a dream come true for pharmacies.

  9. Wow, thanks for the links. I’m going to have to look more into it. I’m going to have to add that Wolsey guy to the gang member registry as a slum lord. I saw a Youtube video the VPD put out called operation Faulty Towers where they went under cover to expose some corrupt slum lords. There are a lot of scams going on in the DTES and a lot of people taking advantage of the exploited:

  10. Bilko777, you said "So what should the government do with inmates on methadone? Take it away from them and make them suffer?"...

    How quickly we forget the people who suffer because of their loved ones decisions to do drugs.

    What about the incarcerated junkie who got high and beat his kids? Heavens no, he shouldn't have to suffer at all, just let the kids do all the suffering for him.

    What about the incarcerated junkies who victimized innocent people when they broke into their homes to steal for their next fix? That is one of the worst feelings in the world... knowing your home isn't safe anymore, it's been violated for drugs.

    But you're right, we shouldn't make them suffer. Instead we should set them up in "Prison A La Hilton". These people aren't in prison because they live good lives, they're in there because they. broke. the. law. And they need to be treated as such.

  11. Thanks. I was beginning to think I was going insane. It really isn’t rocket science. These extremists have taken over the political spectrum and are using our tax dollars to fund organized crime.

  12. Thank you, Agent K, for providing this forum to just briefly discuss the terrible mis-use & abuse by all parties in the Methadone program, which I'm on. I can see these abuses everyday and it makes me mad. To start with, no Doctor forces the "patient" to lower doses, every time I went in and said I was depressed, or anxious, or just about anything, up goes the dose by a whopping 10 mls. Before I knew it, I was on 160 mls. a day, for no good reason. It took me to just start demanding that the Doctor lower the doses, they NEVER will do it themselves, it's crazy! I'm now down to 95 ml. in six months, and I told the Doctor I'm going down by as much as I can; every month till I get rid of it. But a person has to do all this oneself, with zero support from the system.

    Think of it, if we all try to get off it, the pharmacies will not sell so much product, which I understand is very cheap for them to make; and they charge lots to Pharmacare for it; then their dispensing fees, a huge money-maker, would slide downhill. The clinics would lose "customers", the Doctors lose out robo-writing prescriptions; the last time I went in for a meth. script I spent ( I check) fifty seconds with that Doctor!

    Then one can get on the program with one dirty sample! Crazy! If a crack person needs cash, or anyone, why not buy a $10 flap of H.; snort it; and walk into the methadone clinic as a H. "junkie" w/a dirty urine sample. It's a great scam for lots of free rock. Soon they get "carries," and since they're not real H."junkies," they can just re-sell all the meth.! Right now, on the DTES, one average-size daily meth. dose of 100 mls. sells for $20. And they whine, and can get way more than that! One can get, tax-free, maybe $30/day from re-selling just your meth. Think of the total amount that means to the crack and crank's a windfall that never ends!

    But even that's just the beginnings...organized crime has moved in, and rings of meth. re-sellers buy daily doses for crack, or smaller amounts of cash, & hoard large amounts for professional re-sale.

    It's all turned into a kind of nightmare. I just want out as soon as possible, while drawing attention to this real drug disaster we've inflicted on ourselves.

  13. You are on the Methadone program? My apologies for sounding harsh. You raise a good point about the intent of the program compared with how it’s being abused. Good for you for forcing the doctor to lower the dosage. As you say there seems to be no incentive to do this which would confirm the interview with Lisa who was on the program and they kept increasing not decreasing her dose.

    The pharmacies and the doctors have no incentive to lower the doses. Just like a privatized prison has no incentive to rehabilitate a prisoner if they are making money off his forced labour.

    Clearly the two real problems with the system are doctors not decreasing the dosage and the scams involving the resale of methadone to buy crack. A crack addict taking one hit of Heroin and walking onto a methadone clinic claiming he is a heroin junkie then getting free methadone that he can resell to buy crack is absolutely insane.

    I remember there was a time when welfare in BC was getting completely scammed. People would get fake id and collect several cheques for one person. That‘s when they started making people pick up their cheques making it hard for one person to be in seven places at once.

    Unfortunately the people who really need it don’t get it because they have made so many hoops to jump through it’s crazy and they have lowered the amounts so much you can’t find a place to stay for that money little lone eat or pay hydro. The people who scam the system destroy it for those who really need it.

    Clearly it’s time to make the methadone program more accountable by stopping the slum lords and the corrupt pharmaceutical companies which may indeed be a daunting task. Yet it really isn’t brain surgery to track the dosages of people on the program and the length of time they have been on the program. Forcing them to decrease the doses is just common sense. Since the pharmacists are in a conflict of interest perhaps we need a civilian agency to over see that too.

  14. Freddy, you said "But a person has to do all this oneself, with zero support from the system."... are you kidding?

    They are supporting you! They are allowing you a way to kick your habit, at the expense of the tax payers. No one can hold your hand and tell you it's going to be okay, you need to find your inner strength and fight your battle yourself.

    It's way to easy for people now a days, to take zero accountability for their own faults in life. It would be way to easy to say "I couldn't stay clean cause the government wasn't there to help me". If you want to stay clean and are ready for the change... it will happen. Only you and you alone can find the strength to do it. No support system out there is better than what you have inside of you.

    So don't sit there and fall into the mindset that the government doesn't help you... help yourself. Think of all the things the government has done for you.

  15. I agree many if not most people on the program sit back and take the free ride. I think Freddy is taking ownership of his life and that’s why he made a conscious effort to get the doctor to lower the dose so he gets off it. I think it is very significant that they don’t automatically do that for everyone on the program. For them to put people on the program and keep them there by increasing their dosages is absolutely bizarre.

  16. I guess it all depends on how long you've been on the program. Taking ownership is getting on the program and getting off the program as soon as you can. Having someone sit on the program for 10 years isn't taking ownership.

    I think doses are increased to keep control. A frazzled mind is a dangerous mind.

  17. Jen: "No one can hold your hand and tell you it's going to be okay, you need to find your inner strength and fight your battle yourself."

    Yes, you're right, Jen, but didn't you read my post, where I clearly state I take the sole responsibility for getting off methadone? I am forcing a totally un-responsive system to lower my dose by 5 mls.; every single time I show up at the Clinic. Also, I've reduced at times by 10 mls. per visit; until vicious withdrawals set in, and I backed off to 5 mls. per visit. But nobody asks me to do that, ever! I take the responsibility to get off Methadone.

  18. Jen to Freddy: "So don't sit there and fall into the mindset that the government doesn't help you... help yourself."

    That is an un-fair comment; try reading the posts you're replying to first!

  19. It's not an unfair comment... you mentioned there is no support from the system --- you want to see a no support system, take a look at Haiti. There government doesn't give a flying "bad f word" about their own people.

    They have water contaminated with Cholera
    They have bodies lying in the street rotting

    What do we have? Oh right, a government that actually half ass cares. They offer programs to help people like you, who say there is never enough help.

    Un-responsive system... well, at least there is a system. I haven't seen my husband in 3 weeks! He's out there busting his ass off to help support those "un-responsive" systems so the people who can't help themselves have the option to get help.

    Freddy, one question... how long have you been using the methadone clinics? I'll gladly fork over a plane ticket to send you to a place like Haiti so you can see first hand how responsive our system is. You can try kicking the habit with no system.

    Sorry for the rant agent K... but nothing gets under my skin more than having to listen to people complain about this and that. We have it pretty damn good in this country. Yes we have corruption at all levels... but at least our government puts on their caring face.

  20. No worries. I suppose people could say the same about me because I’ve been complaining about quite a few things of late including our pathetic judicial system. There are a lot of lobbyists that cry like spoilt brats demanding the government does everything for them including buying their illicit drugs. They want safe injection sites turned into safe inhalation sites where people can smoke crack at the taxpayers expense. Personally I think that is insane.

    Yet most, including myself, have compassion on the heroin addict. You have to be pretty desperate to stick a needle in your arm and once you’re addicted it is very hard to get off. When I see the video clip of Lisa talking about her struggles and her concerns with the methadone program I’m filled with compassion and hope she doesn’t get beaten for breaking the silence. Anyone on the program who makes the effort to force them to reduce the dosages is to be commended.

    What a heart wrenching situation Haiti is in. If your husband is involved in assisting in their recovery, good on him. We do complain about our system a lot yet as you say it is better than a lot of other systems out there. Let’s hope we can fine tune it so the atrocities that happen to the disadvantaged in East Van stop and the people exploiting them are brought to justice.

  21. Freddy, i believed you might be confused. There is no way you were on 160 mls per day, you would be dead. I can believe you were on 160 MILIGRAMS but there is no way you were on 160 mls per day like you claim.

  22. bilko777: Your test post worked. I don't know where your other post went. Maybe you hit preview instead of post.

  23. I dont know if anyone still is reading this forum, but I have noticed that bilko 777 told freddy that 160mls he would be dead. Im sure you know what he meant. I am on 170 Mgs and am fine. Lots of people should not be on the clinic for the sole purpose of abusing the drug if not selling the take homes. For those of us who are living a functional life due to methadone, I could promise you that alot more people would be dead if methadone did not save their life. Heroin or pills taking uncontrolled would have.

  24. Brian. Thanks for the insight. If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been on the program and have they ever reduced the dosage?

  25. Agent K, I'm a journalist writing an article about Pharmacies in the DTES providing incentives for methadone patients to fill their prescriptions with them. I'd be interested in talking to some of these people for the article if they're interested. Do you have anyone's contact info? Or are people still reading/replying to these comments? I know its a bit of a shot in the dark because the last comment was made in May.

  26. Freddy knows about that. He just posts on the blog, I’m not sure how to contact him. I suppose the concern would be someone claiming to be a journalist who isn’t really one.

  27. Love your blog - longtime reader/fan. I agree that harm reduction by itself is weak to useless, but your caricaturing of methadone program proponents as extremists is a bit silly. Weaning is a goal, yes, but for harder, longer-spanning opiate addictions, longish-term methadone maintenance is not inherently wrong or evil, and the reselling/scamming of meth isn't nearly as rampant or blanketing as you say - on the DTES, sure, but overall, you couldn't know.

    Before I got on the methadone program my lifestyle was so insanely, inctricately latticed around illicitly obtaining opiates I lived every bad cliche about addiction - the mere fact that the program allowed me to avoid the horror of withdrawal, weaning or no, let me get back to a highly productive professional routine. I haven't lowered my dose in a while (not that it was large to begin with) but I am happily maintaining, never abusing, and my support structure of counselling and community are ever-expanding.

    Like I said, I love your blog, have for ages, but this post kind of missed the mark for me. I think it's impossible to understand the maddening quicksand loop of opiate addiciton unless lived firsthand - hell, I've had problems with cocaine and crystal meth, both hard cases in their own rights, but the physicality of opiate withdrawal makes anything else, even meth, look Mickey Mouse as hell. Often it feels so hopeless that the only rays of hope come from places like - you guessed it - Insite, where one can get some crucial information on where to get started turning life around. The convergence of using place + resource center is invaluable and often sadly overlooked.

  28. I appreciate your feedback. No two people agree on every issue and since I post on such a variety of controversial issues, there will no doubt be places of agreement and places of disagreement. Dialogue and free speech are good things in a democratic society.

    I don’t know much about the methadone program. I do know it can and is often abused. Having a crack addict take a couple hits of heroin then getting on the methadone program just to sell the methadone to buy crack is one example. Corrupt doctors, pharmacists and slum lords that scam the system is another. I believe reducing the dosage while on the program is essential.

    Alcoholism is also a disease. I don’t think we should start buying alcoholics alcohol in prison when they are incarcerated. Choices have consequences. At some point in life we need to accept responsibility for our choices. A crack addict who is a chronic offender that commits a huge amount of property crime to pay for their addiction should not be given free crack in prison. Spending three months in jail without access to crack would not only be a natural consequence of their decision to commit crime but would be in that addict’s best interest. I personally believe the same applies to heroin addiction.

    My brother once told me many years ago that when going off a heroin addiction you feel like you are going to die. Yet while going off an alcohol addiction you could die. He took jail time instead of a fine for an impaired charge many years ago. He said the DT’s were so bad even the guards felt sorry for him. Yet over all he claims it was the best thing for him.



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