Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin and the legal drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. They are typically used to treat pain but can also be used to treat coughs and diarrhea. Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which reduces the perception of pain.
In Canada, opioids are available by prescription only. They are typically only prescribed for severe pain requiring long-term, around-the-clock pain relief. When used as directed by a healthcare professional, opioids can be safe and effective at managing pain. However, opioids can be addictive and misusing them can lead to overdose and death.
The opioid crisis in Canada is a growing public health concern.
About 9.6% of Canadian adults reported harmful use of opioids (opioids addiction), with females being higher than males in misuse. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2,946 hospitalizations were due to opioid overdoses in 2016-2017, a 36% increase from the previous year. In addition, there were 867 deaths from opioid overdoses in 2016, a 34% increase from the prior year.
Several factors have contributed to the opioid crisis in Canada. One is the over-prescription of opioids. According to the Canadian Medical Association, there has been a four-fold increase in the prescribing of opioids between 1996 and 2014. Another factor is the growing availability of illicit opioids, such as fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin and sold on the street.
The opioid crisis is having a devastating impact on communities across Canada. It was estimated that the economic cost of the problem was $3.5 billion by 2021. The human cost is even more significant, with thousands of people dying yearly from overdoses.
The Canadian government has taken many steps to try to address the crisis. In 2016, it passed the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which provides legal protection for people who call 911 to report an overdose. It has also funded needle exchange programs and opened supervised injection sites.
Despite these efforts, the opioid crisis continues to grow. More needs to be done to address this problem.
Ogden Pharmacy in Calgary, AB, offers a complete and governmentally covered program to treat and manage opioid addiction. Please call us at 587-391-9878, use the Facebook Messenger Chatbot (the bottom right of this page), or use our WhatsApp Chat (the down left of this page) to ask us about our opioid addiction treatment.