Pubdate: Mon, 28 Nov 2016
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2016 The StarPhoenix
Author: Barb Shellian
Page: A5


Canada is experiencing a serious opioid epidemic. While it has only
recently made headlines, there has been a growing trend toward misuse
and illegal use of opioid prescriptions in the past few years, one
that nurses across Canada have seen firsthand.

Whether or not people obtain these drugs by prescription, the
difficulty of withdrawal is having a serious impact on our publicly
funded health system. The Canadian Nurses Association is therefore
pleased with Health Minister Jane Philpott's call for a national
strategy to face this crisis.

We believe changes must be made to how 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 to reduce the circulation of opioids.

In addition, Canada needs a harm-reduction approach that ensures swift
and effective access to safe consumption sites and a linkage to
quality health services. Insite in Vancouver has proven its capacity
to quickly connect with health providers the people living with
addictions. This evidence-based approach prevents deaths,
disabilities, overdoses and other illnesses that can harm individuals'
health while costing taxpayers a lot of money.

Nurses know that harm reduction works. Therefore, our association
believes that harm reduction must be added as the fourth pillar of
Canada's National Anti-Drug Strategy. Given the opioid crisis, it's a
moral imperative.

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

Barb Shellian, President, CNA
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