Pain drove B.C. woman and ‘thousands’ to street drugs after medication cut off

published on June 25, 2017 by Camille Bains, The Canadian Press in CBC News

Desperate for relief from unbearable pain following knee surgery, Lorna Bird says she was forced to buy drugs from the Downtown Eastside streets of Vancouver when her doctor stopped prescribing an opioid in response to new standards aimed at preventing fatal overdoses.

“I started with heroin because I couldn’t stand the pain,” Bird said, recalling her fears about dying from fentanyl-laced street drugs because “everybody was croaking” and she didn’t want her grandchildren dealing with that outcome.

Evan Wood, director of the BC Centre on Substance Use, said the opioid crisis demands a two-pronged approach one to deal with patients who’ve become dependent on the narcotics and another for people who have never been prescribed the narcotics but need pain management.

Addicted patients must be continued on lower, stable doses of the treatment while being monitored to prevent access to street drugs, Wood said, and people with new pain issues should not be prescribed the narcotics except in rare cases and only for a few days and on a low dosage.

‘Very, very, very dangerous’

“Once somebody’s opioid-addicted, simply cutting them off of opioids can lead to all sorts of problems with people turning to the street and transitioning to intravenous use and, of course, with fentanyl out there in the drug supply it can be very, very, very dangerous.”

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