Labelled an effort to fight the growing issue of opioid addiction here within the province of Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has announced that the provincial drug formulary (ODB) will no longer be covering high-dose long-acting opioids over 200mg MED (Morphine Equivalent Dose) as of January 2017.
I am an opioid user who is currently not using. Hold the applause; this isn’t about my “triumph” or whatever you want to call it. The time came for me to stop and I did, how is irrelevant. While I haven’t been using for about six months I am in a relationship with someone who is currently still using intravenously and this means I have to accommodate that fact in my life.
There are plenty of ideas on how to best address the growing opioid epidemic, ranging from harsher enforcement of drug laws, harm reduction initiatives, to the complete legalization of drugs. One of these ideas, creating tamper-resistant or tamper-proof opioids, has been on my personal radar lately. It's a thorny subject, with passionate arguments on both sides. It all begs the question - to tamper-proof, or not to tamper-proof?
I must say, I've been fairly impressed with the changes made by our new Liberal government and Minister of Health, Jane Philpott. While the reaction time has been lagging, some significant steps have been taken in order to help protect the health and lives of Canadians who use drugs. While we aren't even halfway through 2016, let's take a look at what's changed so far this year!
The recent reports on the appearance of a previously unseen synthetic opioid known as "W-18" by the Calgary Police and Health Canada have raised some serious concerns and fears of overdose. The drug itself is estimated to be 100 times more potent than Fentantyl, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. But what is it, and why is it even here? Hint: The war on drugs plays a BIG role.
Recently, it doesn't seem that I can go more than a day or so without another 'Fentanyl-themed' article in the daily news/media. While on one hand, it's great that the issues surrounding Fentanyl and opiate use are being recognized and discussed more frequently in the mainstream media. On the other hand, it signifies that we now have a very big issue on our hands. When it comes to reducing the potentially deadly effects associated with Fentanyl use, reporting on the issue only goes so far. Action needs to be taken, immediately.
It was only four days after my opiate overdose training and Naloxone/Narcan certification that I found out M had died of an overdose. I didn't know her on a personal level, yet the news of her death weighed heavily on me.
The Province of Ontario has become a leader in Canada when it comes to per-capita opioid prescribing and high-dose opioid dispensing, and along with it has earned 13 straight years of record setting opioid overdose fatalities. While it is far from the type of 'record' that Ontario should be proud of setting, it seems to sit relatively idle when it comes to taking action towards preventing the deadly issue of opioid overdose.
A group of drug strategy representatives from across the Province known as the Municipal Drug Strategy Co-ordinator’s Network of Ontario (MDSCNO) have taken up the tremendous task of releasing a detailed report on "key actions urgently needed to improve opioid safety and reduce accidental opioid overdose fatalities and injuries by expanding access to the emergency medicine naloxone." The summary report (released June 2015) entitled "Prescription For Life" calls upon the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada and all involved Agencies to take immediate action in order to help prevent accidental deaths and injuries due to opioid overdose.
Agios Stefanos Prison in Patras, Greece is the proud new home of the country's very first 'prison' methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) program, where inmates struggling with addiction can now be provided with proper treatment, medical care and compassion they so desperately require to treat their addictions while incarcerated.
While Methadone and Suboxone have long held the title for the go-to treatment options for opiate addiction, there are exciting new treatments emerging that hope to provide relief for those still struggling to find a successful route to sobriety.
By K. Lanktree
- Freelance Writer -
- Blog Mistress -
- Former IV Drug User -
- Methadone Patient -
- Lover of all things Harm Reduction -
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