International Overdose Awareness Day

Over the years, I have written several topics on the opioid crisis. Below are few of my favourites that I want to highlight this week in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day which is on Aug 31, 2018.

We sometimes blame prescribers for starting the opioid crisis but sadly, the problem can begin at our own homes.  Kids can turn to drugs for many reasons beyond trying to be cool.   In fact, I believe our opioid crisis is a side effect from our mental health crisis that desperately needs attention too.

Of courses, the problem may stem partly from our prescribing habits. One particular pet peeve of mine is the mindless prescribing of Fentanyl Patch. Check out my post on Fentanyl Patch – Our friend or foe?

The Centres of Diseases Control and Prevention have recently updated the opioid prescribing guidelines in 2016 which I have summarized here.  The Canadian Guidelines were also updated in 2017 for which I have put my thoughts in this post.

We need to continue to put effort to address the opioid crisis. Everyone has a part to play including pharmacists.  I have described some of my thoughts on what roles a pharmacist can take to address the opioid crisis.   I have summarized some resources for tapering opioids as well. I have even put together a video for patients, called A Patient Guide to Opioid Tapering.

Tapering opioids or deprescribing can be exhausting. In this post, I have shared my personal experience with deprescribing.  We may turn to nabilone as an alternative but I also think we should not forget about topical NSAIDs.  While withdrawal symptoms are not fatal, they can be very distressing for patients.  So tapering very slowly is paramount, as well as providing lots of motivation and coaching every step of the way. For individuals where tapering is not feasible or unsuccessful, switching to Suboxone is perhaps the solution.

Of course, one key solution to combat the opioid crisis is to have access to naloxone – an antidote for opioids. Check out some resources on Naloxone training and Infographics from Canadian Pharmacists Association here.

During the International Overdose Awareness Day (Aug 31), I hope you will reflect on how you can contribute to ending the opioid crisis!

Thank you for reading my post.



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My name is Cynthia Leung and I am a practicing pharmacist in Kingston Ontario, Canada. This blog is for me to share my ideas, opinions and perspectives on how medications are used in our health care system. Note that these posts are my own opinions and do not represent the opinions of my current or former employers and / or organizations that I may belong to. Any possible case scenarios described in my posts would be modified to maintain patient confidentiality. This blog is not a platform for professional advise for patients or health care providers and the content is not meant to support any clinical decisions or replace professional opinions. Also the images are either taken or created by the author, or adapted with permission. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts!

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