Pubdate: Mon, 21 Nov 2016
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Barb Shellian
Page: A7


To the editor: Canada is experiencing a serious opioid epidemic. While
it has only recently been in the headlines, there has been a growing
trend toward misuse and illegal use of opioid prescriptions in the
last few years, a trend nurses across Canada have seen first-hand.

Whether or not people obtain these drugs by prescription, the
difficulty of withdrawing from them is having a serious impact on our
universal and publicly funded health system.

We are therefore pleased to hear of federal Health Minister Jane
Philpott's call for a national strategy to face this crisis. Last
week, experts from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to develop an
action plan on the issue.

The Canadian Nurses Association believes changes must be made to the
way opioids are prescribed in Canada. Nurse practitioners and doctors
must take steps to reduce easy access to unnecessary opioids while
employing mandatory risk management and prescription monitoring programs.

This is one of many essential steps for reducing the circulation of
these drugs.

In addition, Canada needs to take a harm reduction approach that
ensures swift and effective access to safe consumption sites and a
linkage to quality health services.

Vancouver's supervised injection site has proven its capacity to
connect people living with addictions to health providers who support

This evidence-based approach prevents deaths, disabilities, overdoses
and other illnesses.

Nurses know harm reduction works. Therefore, the Canadian Nurses
Association believes harm reduction must be the fourth pillar of
Canada's National Anti-Drug Strategy. In light of the opioid crisis,
doing so is a moral imperative.

It is important for Canadians to understand that a prohibitive
approach doesn't help our most vulnerable people, many of whom are
also dealing with mental health issues, access the care they need. The
alternative to providing adequate care simply means additional and
unaffordable costs for our public health system.

Barb Shellian, President, Canadian Nurses Association
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