Health care professionals, many of them first responders, say there is a greater need for better guidelines for how to deal with patients taking prescribed drugs, but also for clearer guidance on how to treat people who do not need prescriptions.
In an interview, health care practitioners from across Canada said they are concerned about the rising incidence of prescription-drug overdoses.
“I think people are under-informed and under-equipped in dealing with opioid users, especially those who are young, who have little education, and who are in vulnerable situations,” said Dr. Mark Belsky, president of the Canadian Medical Association, the country’s largest medical society.
“We have seen the need to get a better understanding of what the symptoms are and how to get to the point where they can be managed safely.
We need to develop a system of guidelines that is much more clear and accessible to the public and that is something we are working on.”
Belsker said he believes that the need for more guidelines is due to an increase in the use of fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than morphine and more potent than cocaine.
Fentanyl is sold as an alternative to prescription painkillers and is the main psychoactive ingredient in synthetic opioids, including oxycodone.
It is used for pain relief in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Many people are taking it for its supposed anti-anxiety properties and for its ability to relax and help them feel better.
Belski said that for many people, the fentanyl rush has made them feel like they are in a dream state.
“The drugs are so powerful, they are so strong, they make you feel like you’re in a high-end hotel room, or that you’re really on top of the world,” said Belska.
“You feel like everything is a dream and you feel very good.
But it’s just so dangerous, and I think the more people are exposed to it, the more likely we will see an increase.”
Dr. James Wilson, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Ottawa, said he is concerned that more people will become addicted to the synthetic opioid because of the increase in fentanyl.
“It’s a very, very dangerous drug and I have heard that fentanyl is the most commonly abused opioid in the country,” said Wilson.
“And the drug that is the greatest threat to public health is the opioid itself.
So we are seeing people coming into the emergency department who are struggling with opioid addiction.
Thompson said that he believes there is an “under-reporting problem” among health care workers and other health professionals. “
What we’re seeing in our community is a very dangerous combination of the fentanyl surge, the increased fentanyl availability, and the opioid misuse,” said Thompson.
Thompson said that he believes there is an “under-reporting problem” among health care workers and other health professionals.
“When I am in the field, I don’t see a lot of people who are reporting to the health-care professionals that they’re having an overdose, and it’s because they are not,” he said.
“That’s a concern, and if you want to make sure that you have an overdose-free hospital environment, you should have those people on site and not in the ER.”
But in Ontario, which has the highest number of overdose deaths per capita in Canada according to the latest figures from the province’s Ministry of Health, health officials have warned that more than 50,000 overdose deaths were reported in Ontario in 2016.
The province has recently launched a new public awareness campaign called ‘The Rise and Fall of OxyContin’, which includes the introduction of a new drug-test initiative.
“This campaign will be about providing a framework to provide the tools that are needed to deal effectively with overdose and opioid use,” said Stephanie Kavner, an assistant minister for public health.
She said the campaign includes a video that will be available on a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
“In the meantime, we are asking health- care workers, and others in the public health sector, to be aware of what medications are in their patients’ systems and to be vigilant about their medications,” said Kavcher.
“These drugs are becoming increasingly more dangerous.”
While there are no data on how many people have died from fentanyl overdoses, Belsk said he knows that it is an increasing problem.
“There is a lot more fentanyl coming into our country,” he added.
“A lot more people and a lot less knowledge and awareness is needed.”
A recent report by the U of T’s School of Public Health and Addiction Services (SPHAS) estimated that Canada has the most fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the world, with more than 300,000 deaths.
There have been numerous reports of fentanyl-containing products being sold in drugstores and in online stores, and in the past few months there have been more fentanyl-contaminated products being purchased at the local drugstore than in the last year.