Pubdate: Sat, 02 Sep 2017
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 North Bay Nugget
Author: Dave Dale
Page: A1


There are a lot of very smart people in North Bay. It would be
interesting to see if the bright lights here can find an opportunity
hiding in the weeds to solve the opioid crisis.

And I'm not referring to emergency funding injections or quick-fix

More than 700 health-care professionals urged the province this week
to declare an emergency so more funding can flow to Ontario's
front-line programs.

Overdose prevention sites, they say, need a boost to stem the tide as
deaths are mounting beyond even the HIV pandemic decades ago.

That's important and necessary in the short term, don't get me wrong,
but we should go beyond the crisis point and take a long, hard look at
the overall pain-management and depression treatment picture.

First, though, one needs to understand the background of the opioid
situation, a crisis fuelled by poorly considered pharmaceutical solutions.

It began with Percocets (a pill mixture of oxycodone and
acetaminophen), for moderate to severe acute pain. It was considered
by many as too strong for most people to handle.

 From that, a similar mixture was created with a slow-release coating,
such as the Canadian brand Oxycocet.

Hailed as a miracle pain management tool by drug marketers, doctors
quickly embraced and over-prescribed them (under various brand names)
to patients, specifically those with longer term and more chronic pain

Fentanyl patches came later with even stronger opioid bases with
slow-release fabrics that are absorbed by the skin instead of ingested.

Both types are relatively safe if taken as directed for short to
medium periods of time.

Unfortunately, humans being human, it didn't take long for those who
seek more intense and immediate effects to figure out they can be
chewed, snorted and smoked if crushed or cut into strips.

It didn't take long for such drugs to infect every spectrum of
society, especially when low-income patients learned they could sell
what they could spare to a ready market.

Old and young, rich and poor, took to opioids like babies parked too
close to the candy bowl.

Thousands upon thousands became addicted or died trying, forcing
governments on both sides of the border to limit the prescription supply.

This area actually led the way in one respect, with Nipissing MPP Vic
Fedeli helping to establish a Patch-for-Patch program in which used
fentanyl products must be returned to a pharmacy before new patches
are dispensed.

But like any pharmaceutical, drug dealers found or created ingredients
and began mixing them into other street drugs like cocaine and heroin,
leading to the recent spikes in overdoses.

What remains is a health care emergency that's not going to heal

Province-wide, in the first six months of last year 412 people died
from opioid overdoses, an 11 per cent increase from the previous year.

Just in this area alone, 70 people died from an opioid overdose
between 2010 and 2015 (14 per year average), according to surveillance
by the North Bay-Parry Sound District Health Unit. That's more than
double the six per year average between 2005 and 2009.

The opportunity North Bay has, however, has nothing to do with
controlling the supply or design of opioid products.

What is needed is alternative treatment for both pain and depression
to avoid opioid pharmaceuticals in the first place.

Many people believe one part of the solution might be found in
marijuana, with more evidence of its medicinal properties mounting.

But I'm not talking about the THC chemical in the plant that provides
the psychoactive effects, although there are likely benefits there for

Another cannabinoid in marijuana, CBD, provides pain-relief that might
work better for many people who suffer chronic issues. And it works
best when ingested, eliminating the potential negative health impacts
some people are concerned about.

Imagine if the best and brightest in North Bay's health, social
welfare and educational sectors put their minds together to come up
with a pilot project for this community.

With North Bay's higher-than-average unemployment, overdoses,
addictions and disability recipients, there's certainly a critical
mass available for studying the possibilities in a controlled research

Some people might not want the city associated with the so-called evil
little weed.

But it's better than having three methadone clinics, a used-syringe
epidemic and a city jail busting at the seams.
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MAP posted-by: Matt