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David Martell

Dr. David Martell, 45

Family physician at Lunenberg Family Health in Lunenberg, N.S.

He provides addiction treatment in the comfort of a family practice.

By Megan Jones

In 2011, a teenage patient and his mother visited Dr. David Martell’s practice in Lunenberg, N.S. The young man was struggling with opioid addiction and needed medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms. No one in the community of 2,300 was qualified to dispense it.

That unfortunate experience prompted the doctor to seek out the necessary training. Today, he sees 40 patients dealing with opioid use disorder in the same building that houses his family clinic. The location is important: treating people with addictions in his practice diminishes the stigma that can arise when they are segregated. As a family physician, Martell is also familiar with his patients’ histories, allowing him to provide comprehensive care.

Across Canada, most doctors don’t know how to treat opioid use disorder. Martell stresses that this can’t go on. “We haven’t seen the worst of the opioid crisis,” he says. “If we don’t address the problem early, many young people will be exposed to drugs that will kill them.”