Alberta should rethink safe supply in light of new research, advocates say IG News

Irshadgul News report,

New research out of Ontario is generating conversation in the Canadian medical community about the potential benefits and precautions of a safe supply of opioids.

The study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that providing drug users with prescription opioids in place of illicit street drugs could significantly reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations for people at high risk of overdose. can be reduced immediately.

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“People are looking at this as the first evidence that is really quantitative and quite rigorous,” said study lead author Dr. Tara Gomes.

The study followed two groups of London, Ont., residents diagnosed as having an opioid-use disorder. A group compiled of 82 residents was included in the Safe Opioid Supply (SOS) program. The other group was not made aware of the program. After monitoring each trial group for one year, the study concluded that among residents in the SOS program, the rates of emergency department visits and hospitalizations were significantly reduced.

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“These were findings we weren’t seeing when we looked at similar people living in the same city who also had an opioid-use disorder but who weren’t accessing the program,” Gomes said.

Click to play video: 'Safe supply of drugs, ER visits, hospitalizations, says study'

Safe supply of drugs reduces ER visits, hospitalizations, study finds

Safe supply of drugs reduces ER visits, hospitalizations, study finds

The new evidence comes months after the Alberta government closed the book on safe supplies as a potential tool in combating the opioid epidemic.

Back in June, Alberta’s Special Select Committee to Examine Safe Supplies quietly released its final report, which concluded that the practice could lead to “increased addiction and overdose.”

The report was based largely on a Simon Fraser University review, which concluded that “there was no evidence demonstrating the benefits of[the public supply of narcotics].” After its release, dozens of scientists and researchers wrote a letter to the selection committee, saying Simon Fraser’s review was “flawed” and “not based on existing evidence.”

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In an interview with Global News, Gomes, who co-authored the Simon Fraser Review, said that if the Ontario study had been released months earlier, it still would not have changed his conclusion regarding safe supplies, mainly because It does not address the reasons. of addiction, such as chronic homelessness.

“The findings aren’t that great anyway,” Gomes said. “Unless you’re ignoring causal factors, you’re ripping off the edges and spending more money.”

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Alberta will not provide ‘free illicit drugs’ as First Nations grapples with opioid crisis: Kenny

Alberta will not provide ‘free illicit drugs’ as First Nations grapples with opioid crisis: Kenny – June 23, 2021

In recent months, opioid-related deaths in Alberta have been on a downward trend. According to a government data dashboard, there were 92 opioid-related deaths in July 2022, the lowest since April 2020. A government news release called the recent trend “a positive sign.”

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An Edmonton doctor has warned that it is too early to say whether the current approach to the opioid epidemic is working.

A family doctor who serves on the Opioid Poisoning Committee for the Edmonton Medical Zone Staff Association, Dr. Ginetta Salvalaggio said the Alberta government should reconsider safe supply as part of its opioid strategy, in light of new Ontario research.

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Doctor brings up ideas for tackling Alberta’s opioid crisis – April 7, 2022

“It is possible that some of the policy measures and investments initiated by the government are helping but ultimately they are addressing addiction. It is not what is driving this crisis. It is what is driving this crisis. There is a supply of toxic drugs,” Salvalagio said.

“And if government policy levers were indeed doing something here, we wouldn’t see the same pattern in the short term in BC”

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BC data shows opioid-related deaths also trended downward in the first half of 2022, although there have been smaller spikes in the summer months.

Ultimately, Gomes hopes that his study can help make government policy decisions at all levels.

“I think what I often see in government is it tries to come back and see what’s changed.”

“I don’t know when Alberta might reconsider the evidence for safe supply. Hopefully, as this kind of work develops, there will be an understanding that perhaps decisions made in the past were based on old evidence and new evidence that has needs to be considered,” Gomes said.

“I think the more we speak about this evidence, the more we encourage others to try and replicate these findings.”

Global News requested an interview with Alberta’s associate addiction minister, Mike Ellis, but did not hear back.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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