What chronic pain patients face in Canada


Have they put a stop to narcotic abuse? For a whole bunch of reasons, tamper-proof pills have not solved the narcotic crisis, say the authors of the commentary. First, if you think addicts always chew, crush or dissolve drugs like OxyContin, you’re wrong. Many of them swallow the tamper proof pills intact. Compared to crushing or chewing, it may take more time to get high. But if you take enough of them, you will. Second, the fact that OxyContin was tamper proof simply motivated addicts to experiment with other narcotics to get high. That’s one of the main reasons why we’ve got a growing problem of addiction to another narcotic named fentanyl. Overdose deaths due to fentanyl are on the rise…


The Province of Ontario has become a leader in Canada when it comes to per-capita opioid prescribing and high-dose opioid dispensing, and along with it has earned 13 straight years of record setting opioid overdose fatalities…

A group of drug strategy representatives from across the Province known as the Municipal Drug Strategy Co-ordinator’s Network of Ontario (MDSCNO) have taken up the tremendous task of releasing a detailed report on “key actions urgently needed to improve opioid safety and reduce accidental opioid overdose fatalities and injuries…

“It is critical to understand that people who are at-risk of an accidental overdose include individuals who are taking opioids as prescribed, in addition to people using opioids non-medically…” – Prescription for Life, Summary Report

The first recommendation made by the MDSCNO regarding overdose policy is to develop and implement a real-time prescription monitoring and surveillance system…

Click to access CDPC_OverdosePreventionPolicy_Final_July2014.pdf

Out of 2,330 drug-related deaths in Ontario between 2006 and 2008, 58 percent were attributed, either in whole or in part, to opioids. Between 2002 and 2010 there were 1654 fatal overdoses attributed to illegal drugs in British Columbia, and between 2002 and 2009 there were 2,325 illegal drug-related overdose hospitalizations. Opioid overdose deaths in BC in 2012 numbered 256, somewhat fewer than 2011 when there were 294 deaths. The greater number of deaths in 2011 was due in part to an increase in the purity of heroin on the street. There were also 95 opioid overdose deaths in Quebec in 2011, compared to 51 in 2000.

Similar to the us, alarm about the increasing use of nonmedical prescription opioids has increased in Canada in recent years, due to increases in the use of prescribed opioids. Research in the US suggests that there is a strong correlation between increased prescribing of these drugs and an increase in harms such as overdose injury, death, and treatment admissions. In Ontario, for example, regions with a high incidence of opioid related deaths per capita had high rates of prescription opioid use. In response to these concerns, seven provinces removed OxyContin from provincial drug formularies in 2012…

As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports, if the use of one drug is controlled by reducing supply, suppliers and users may move on to another drug with similar psychoactive
effects, but of greater potency and purity. As Oxy products have been removed from many of the provincial and federal formularies in Canada, some people have switched to equally strong prescribed drugs or are seeking other illegal alternatives. Data and anecdotal evidence suggest that the nonmedical use of prescription opioids has become more prevalent than heroin use…


In 2009 there were 3,890 suicides in Canada, a rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people…

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people of all ages. In 2009, it ranked as the ninth leading cause of death in Canada. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death, preceded only by accidents (unintentional injuries)…

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