Detox not the answer for opioid crisis, says chief medical officer

Removing stigma and opening clinics offering free suboxone is the answer, says Dr. Victoria Lee

Detox for opioid addicts doesn’t work and can, in fact, be deadly, says Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer.

Instead, Lee suggests the answer is to provide methadone and suboxone at drop-in clinics within the community.

“We often think of treatment beds when we think of how to treat drug addiction. But detox treatment can increase the chance of overdose deaths when treating opioid addiction,” she said.

“Substance abuse affects all aspects of a person’s life and how they function.

“They are engrossed in the chaos of getting the next fix. If we remove that craving, [by providing methadone or suboxone] they can gain order back into their work and home life,” said Lee.

It means that people can be functioning members of society, but may have to be on suboxone their whole lives.

The problem with detox for opioid addicts is that too many suffer relapse and when they do, they can more easily overdose and die, she said.

“Because they have weaned off opioids, they then go cold turkey at the treatment centre. They tend to relapse and when they do, the dose they take is much stronger in their system.”

Fraser Health is pushing for a community based treatment approach with clinics offering suboxone prescribed by doctors at that clinic.

Lee said they have a clinic site available in Langley and doctors waiting to staff the clinic. They just need support from the community and municipal council.

Lee said Fraser Health wants to open a community clinic in Langley right now, but isn’t finding community support for it at the moment. She said she has doctors willing and able to work at the clinic to work with people addicted to opioids.

“People are worried about the kinds of people who hang around these clinics. I can appreciate where the stigma comes from, but from a physician’s point of view, we want to treat the disease, just like we would treat diabetes.

“People with type 2 diabetes often get it because of lifestyle choices of being unhealthy, but we don’t judge them in the same way we judge substance abuse.”

The latest numbers from the B.C. Coroner’s office are staggering and indicative of a crisis that is only getting worse. More than 1,100 drug overdose deaths took place from January to September this year in the province. That is a 147 per cent increase over the same period last year.

But Lee wants to emphasize that the majority of overdoses are happening inside homes, not on the streets.

“People are dying because of the level of stigma attached to drug addiction. Seventy per cent of the overdose deaths were at home.

“People are dying rather than ask for help. If we remove that stigma and start looking at this as a medical condition, it would save lives,” said Lee.

 

Just Posted

WATCH: Today, we remember: community members visit Agassiz cenotaph on Remembrance Day

Royal Canadian Legion members, veterans, first responders, residents gather to pay their respects

Hope’s new brewery christened Mountainview Brewing Co.

Co-owners say the brewery, located at the old Hope Machine Shop, will open fall 2019

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Community efforts raise money for service dog to help Agassiz boy stay calm, happy

Riley, a two-year-old Lhasa Apso-Chihuahua cross has made a huge difference in Chase Frayn’s life

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Stench at Abbotsford school incurs 15 WorkSafe reports

The smell is coming from an unauthorized composting operation and is causing headaches, nausea

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

B.C. cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Hockey legends come to B.C.

Greats including Bossy, Dionne, Hawerchuk, Howe, Lafleur and Parent at Langley Events Centre

Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers closed two major processing centres in Ontario and B.C.

B.C. city councillor resigns as AutismBC director amid SOGI controversy

AutismBC president Gary Robins says Laurie Guerra’s resignation is effective Nov. 12

Most Read