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!
In a fantastic step forward, Health Canada has announced the Naloxone Federal prescription status review results - and it's great news. Effective immediately, Naloxone is now available in Canada without a prescription.
You may or may not have heard about the recent spat over police involvement with harm reduction outreach in Toronto. If not here is a brief article about this new “partnership” involving the Toronto Police Service.
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.
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.
Proven effective or not, Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) programs face considerable challenges and stigma all over the world. Many treatment providers actively oppose it, and countries like Russia and Uzbekistan go so far as to refuse many harm reduction initiatives and deny lifesaving Methadone treatment to opiate addicts desperately in need of help. The country of Kazakhstan is currently facing their own major dilemmas regarding the controversial Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT), with strong views and opinions being hurled from both sides, and the future of their only MMT program in danger.
Venipuncture. More commonly known as blood work, or the process of drawing blood (generally for laboratory testing) is a commonly performed procedure today. However, it is often an absolute nightmare for many current and former IV drug users. Years of intravenous drug use can take its toll on a patients veins, often making it very difficult for healthcare professionals to easily identify a useable vein and successfully draw blood, especially on the first poke. But what if healthcare professionals were able view realtime digital imaging of a patients vasculature, detailed enough to identify flow, bifurcations and valves in a non-invasive way? A new piece of technology known as "VeinViewer" now makes it possible.
By K. Lanktree
- Freelance Writer -
- Blog Mistress -
- Former IV Drug User -
- Methadone Patient -
- Lover of all things Harm Reduction -
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