AHS proposal may add new treatment spaces for opioid addicts
Other programs geared to encourage more doctors to prescribe methadone and Suboxone
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As the province gears up to fight the fentanyl crisis, one program — in particular — plans to encourage more doctors prescribe methadone and Suboxone to treat addicts.
The province has selected six needle exchanges to dispense naloxone as part of a different program aimed at preventing overdoses associated with fentanyl use, but there has not been — so far — an expansion of the program to treat users for addictions.
Methadone and Suboxone satisfy cravings but aren’t euphoric.
Fewer than 100 Alberta physicians prescribe those drugs, and many of them don’t specialize in that practice — patients can often be challenging, among other reasons, said Ed Jess, director of prescribing and analytics at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta.
On top of that, senior decision-makers with the province’s health authority are reviewing a proposal to add new treatment spaces for those addicted to opioids, including fentanyl.
Dr. Laura Calhoun, Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) provincial medical director for addictions and mental health, couldn’t provide more details about the proposal, which has yet to be accepted by AHS executives.
“Opioid misuse is a major concern,” she said. “We are doing all we can to reduce harm, and we think we need short-term, medium-term and longs-term plans to get on top of this.”
Jess said he’s thrilled there’s an opportunity for more treatment options to become available.
Calhoun said she’s not sure when she’ll hear back on the proposal from executives, but hopes it gets approved.
“We hope to get it approved because we can move forward and improve access to opioid dependency treatment,” she said.
There have been 145 fentanyl deaths in Alberta this year.