Province hopes new opioid action plan will help save lives

Oct 31 2016, 10:26 pm

The Alberta Government is implementing a range of new tools to address overdoses and deaths related to fentanyl and other opioids.

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The province has already invested more than $7 million in new addictions treatment programming and recovery beds this year and the new action plan will compliment the previously implemented programs.

The new measures are:

  • Improving the collection and publishing of data to better target interventions
  • Expanding access to opioid replacement therapy
  • Funding several community agencies working to establish supervised consumption sites
  • Improving prescription drug monitoring and implementing new tools to prevent prescription drug misuse in partnership with the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta

“Evidence supports harm reduction strategies as an effective way to address opioid misuse. We can increase Albertans’ access to opioid replacement therapy by strengthening supports for primary care physicians and Primary Care Networks to provide this care,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karen Grimsrud in a release.

Health officials believe increasing the number of supervised consumption services in Alberta will help, saying harm reduction saves lives. The province believes these health services are shown to prevent overdose deaths and improve access to medical and social supports to vulnerable people and are not found to increase drug use and criminal activity.

In Alberta 65 physicians are licensed to provide methadone and about 160 are licensed to provide suboxone for people with opioid replacement therapy. Over the next few weeks, AHS clinics in Edmonton and Calgary will identify stable clients and connect them to a doctor for ongoing treatment.

To date, 193 people have died of apparent drug overdoses related to fentanyl in Alberta this year.