BY VERONICA REINER
With the opioid blocker naloxone being offered for free over the counter, it is clear that prescription and street drug use is a growing issue. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription opioid overdoses have tripled since 1999. It is thought that because these drugs are more available than they used to be, drug abuse is easier. Online pharmacies make it even easier to obtain opioids.
Opioids are a class of drug that include fentanyl, heroin and over-the-counter pain relievers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine and morphine. The province says there were 1,053 opioid-related deaths from January to October 2017, compared with 694 in 2016. There were also 7,658 emergency department visits related to opioid overdoses from January to October of last year, which is nearly twice as many as the 4,453 reported in 2016.
Naloxone works to reverse the effects of an overdose when administered immediately. It is currently available over-the-counter in pharmacies without a prescription, and generally comes in a single use filled syringe. Many bars also have it onsite. One example is the Less Bar in Toronto, according to Global News.
“We received a naloxone kit delivered to our door,” said Cassy Dietrich, a Kitchener resident. “Everyone in the building got one. Someone in the building overdosed, which lead to a guy going door to door and offering ones to everyone.”
For anyone who wants to get help for themselves or those using these substances, Above the Influence is a great online resource to go to. However, different treatments work for different individuals. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that when choosing a treatment method, ensure that the process is backed by solid evidence. Furthermore, make sure that the treatment is tailored to each individual person, considering their background and history with drug abuse.
Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are available everywhere and are effective ways to guarantee ongoing support for those struggling with addiction.
Treatment for addicts is not the only solution. Raising awareness about the issue and finding out what can be done to prevent it in the first place is crucial. The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) uses research to determine which methods of treatment work and which ones are less effective. CASA also focuses on the link between behavioural traits and substance abuse, helping to raise awareness about the warning signs of an addict.
With the number of opioid overdoses continuing to grow, awareness, recognizing the signs of an addict and knowing where to seek treatment is crucial in prevention.