Pharmacists Lead the Way in the Fight Against Opioid Addiction
Obviously, not all drugs sold on the street are sold through pharmacists. But pharmacists often sell to addicts, unknowingly, as well as to those who aren’t addicts yet but will end up that way, and to dealers who doctor shop – pretend they are in pain and go from one doctor to another to get painkillers then sell them to others. Being on the front lines, Canadian pharmacists have decided to up their game in the battle against the opioid epidemic.
At a recent press conference, Alistair Bursey, chairman of the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), acknowledged that pharmacists are often able to see patients turn into addicts and announced some changes in the pharmacy community.
The Province of New Brunswick will be implementing a prescription drug monitoring program – as we have in most of the U.S. states. Each person who fills a prescription will be asked for their provincial medical card where the information is logged about prescriptions they’ve filled. This will alert the pharmacist to a person who has been doctor shopping and to someone who is getting or using more pills than are healthy and might be on the slippery slope to addiction. And the pharmacist can do something about it then and there.
In Nova Scotia, pharmacists have created the Bloom Program. Pharmacists will go through a nine-step training program teaching them how to deal with addicts so they can become certified. When the pharmacists then encounter someone who is likely to be abusing drugs, they then meet with the person in a private room to get them to get help through a drug rehab program.
The CPhA also met with other health professionals at the Opioid Conference and summit to being to lay out an integrative plan in which all health professionals will play a part.
Today’s addicts aren’t just out on the street getting heroin, meth, cocaine and other street drugs. Today’s addicts are often professionals, housewives, doctors, nurses, high school athletes – they’re your next door neighbors, and maybe several of them.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but most relevant are prescription drugs.
- advertising them on TV and in magazines
- ads that basically diagnose people’s problems and tell them to go to their doctor and ask for a certain drug. And they do.
- and doctors, unfortunately, do not have the time to really learn about these drugs – other than what they learn from drug reps who are there to sell them on prescribing them for their patients.
- lying to the FDA, doctors and the general public about the effectiveness of the drugs and the dangers.
And, of course, pharmacists were and are part of it. I’m not saying they realized what they were doing. But they are definitely part of the problem, and they are now stepping up to the plate in Canada to help fix the problem.
There are a lot of addicts and people who abuse drugs who never see pharmacists. But many of them started that way. If pharmacists are keeping an eye out, they might be able to keep thousands from turning into addicts who no longer get their drugs through legitimate channels. And they may save a lot of lives.