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

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.

 

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

Just Posted

Special weather statement issued for Fraser Valley as first summer heat arrives June 20, 2021, and set to persist all week. (Photo by James Day on Unsplash)
Second day of hot temperatures rippling across Fraser Valley

Communities from Abbotsford to Hope will see daytime high maximum temps of 32 degrees

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 following an assault. (File photo)
Trial underway in February 2020 death of White Rock senior

Ross Banner charged with manslaughter following Five Corners altercation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

Most Read