Addiction experts call for national opioid strategy as overdose deaths rise

published on November 7, 2016 by Sheryl Ubelacker in The Vancouver Sun

TORONTO – Canada needs a comprehensive national strategy to curb rampant overprescribing of opioids and to reduce escalating numbers of deaths caused by overdoses of the powerful narcotics, addiction experts say.

Writing in Monday’s edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Benedikt Fischer of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and co-authors say an estimated 2,000 Canadians died from opioid overdoses in 2015, and many provinces are on track for an even higher number of deaths in 2016.


In a related CMAJ commentary Monday, Drs. M. Eugenia Socias and Keith Ahamad, researchers at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, say changing prescribing practices may help protect patients in the future.

“However, we’re in the middle of an opioid overdose epidemic due to untreated addiction…. We need to act now: Canada can no longer afford to be a witness to this devastating epidemic,” they write, suggesting that Canada adopt a plan similar to the National Pain Strategy in the United States.

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