Cook Yvon Robert makes lunch for a young man at Méta d’Âme, a peer-run drop-in centre and residence for opiate users.
Photograph by: Allen McInnis, Montreal Gazette
It’s just before 1 p.m. on a cool, sunny Monday afternoon in late November. On a quiet residential street in Montreal’s east end, half a dozen heroin addicts are waiting by office phones and cellphones in the Méta d’Âme drop-in centre and residence for opiate users and recovering addicts.
Their fingers are poised to hit the speed dial button. At precisely 1 p.m. each Monday, the phone lines open at the city’s main opiate addiction treatment centre, the Centre de recherche et d’aide pour narcomanes.
CRAN is so overwhelmed with demand, only the first caller to get through each week gets a coveted treatment spot.
For everyone else, the wait will continue another week. CRAN is the only provincially funded opiate treatment centre in the city where heroin users even have a shot at help any time soon. At other centres, the waiting lists are six to 12 months long.
« We have to come up with all kinds of tricks to help our clients (work the system), » says Guy-Pierre Lévesque, Méta d’Âme’s director and a former heroin user himself.