Pubdate: Wed, 01 Nov 2017
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Page: A5


As a province, Saskatchewan is not known to be on the cutting edge as
a national trendsetter. When it comes to the opioid crisis, we should
be thrilled to be behind the curve.

Recent stories about opioid deaths should prompt officials in
Saskatchewan to ramp up activities to prevent an increase in deaths
here. In Abbotsford, B.C., five people ages 40 to 67 died of overdoses
in a nine-hour period on Friday.

The two women and three men all died alone.

On Sunday, Winnipeg police uncovered a stash of what is believed to be
fentanyl blotters with a Halloween-themed motif. They issued a warning
to the public, as kids could easily be enticed to pick up and handle
the paper.

Some say methamphetamine is a more pressing problem in this province.
The number of opioid-related deaths actually went down in 2016
compared to 2015. Residents should, however, remember a report
released in September by the Canadian Institute for Health Information
that found Saskatchewan's urban centres are actually seeing high rates
of people seeking medical help for opioid poisoning.

Among 34 Canadian cities with populations greater than 100,000, Regina
ranked fifth for the highest rate of opioid poisoning hospitalizations
- - higher than Vancouver's rate of 20.5 per 100,000 or Toronto's rate
of 7.9 per 100,000.

Concerns prompted the provincial government to announce a task force
to address opioid-related deaths. But that task force has not been
active in the public space, beyond implementation of the Take Home
Naloxone program. Naloxone, which also goes by the name Narcan, blocks
the effects of opioids.

Saskatoon Health Region addictions consultant Dr. Peter Butt says
there is a window to get ahead of the problem before it becomes as
large as it is in other major Canadian cities. He said broad public
education is needed, including the fact that fentanyl can be laced in
other drugs like meth and marijuana.

It would be helpful if the province funded Naloxone kits not just for
addicts, but for parents and others connected to those who may
overdose. Increased access to methadone and buprenorphine treatments -
as well as hiring nurse practitioners to prescribe them - would also
help the province handle opioid addictions. Some other provinces have
attached addictions medicine clinics to emergency rooms.

Of course, people do not need to wait for the government to act.
Parents need to educate themselves and their children on the dangers,
including how fentanyl can be masked as, and in, other drugs.

We do not want to say we could have done more to save lives.
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MAP posted-by: Matt