Interior Health bringing Suboxone to all emergency departments | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health bringing Suboxone to all emergency departments

Interior Health is making treatment for opioid users easier by bringing Suboxone to all its emergency departments.

The medication helps treat people with Opioid Use Disorder, but the move comes as the health authority recognizes many drug users don't have access to a doctor that will prescribe the medication to them, according to an Interior Health news release.

“The toxic drug crisis continues to impact patients, families, and communities. We can be part of the solution to this ongoing public health emergency and hopefully prevent lives from being lost by providing (opioid agonist treatment) in the emergency department,” Heather Hair of Interior Health said in a news release.

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Suboxone is a type of opioid agonist treatment that helps stem cravings for the drug and withdrawal symptoms.

So far, the health authority has expanded its availability to 20 hospitals in the region, with plans to include all of its sites by September.

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“The clients I have seen as a Nurse Prescriber who have succeeded in staying on Suboxone or transitioned to the long-acting injectable are doing very well,” a Crankbrook nurse named Laura said in the release. "They are reconnected to families, have jobs, and are managing life’s challenges in positive ways. Others have gone on to other (opioid agonist treatments) that suit them better so they, too, can move forward. We continue to build relationships and trust with people and support them in their choices.”

The increasing toxic drug deaths in B.C. prompted the health authority's mental health and substance use network to partner with its emergency services in June 2021. Expanding the availability of Suboxone is one tool that Interior Health is using to curb the rising death toll related to toxic drugs in the region, and across B.C.

Patients are sent with "to-go packs" from the emergency department, so they can use Suboxone from home. It also includes an "urgent referral" process to connect them with continued opioid agonist care, according to the Interior Health release.

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