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'More can be done to manage pain without opioids' says lobby group

Better access to pain management needed to combat opioid crisis
needle_exchange-opioid 2016
Northern Ontario has the highest opioid death rate in the province. File photo

A new report today from The Coalition for Safe and Effective Pain Management (CSEPM) says the absence of affordable alternatives to painkillers in Canada’s healthcare system has contributed to an over-reliance on opioids as a first-line treatment.

The report makes a number of recommendations that, if implemented, would improve access to medication free pain management and reduce the number of patients being prescribed opioids in Canada.

“More can be done to manage pain without opioids,” says Michael Heitshu, chair, CSEPM. “People in Canada face significant barriers to accessing alternative pain management such as psychological treatments, physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, and occupational therapy because they are not funded by the public healthcare system. Making these services available would reduce the number of Canadians relying on opioids.”

Take our poll: Cigarettes and alcohol are restricted to certain age groups. Should the legitimate sale of opioids be restricted to only those suffering from cancer?

“We would also like to see better collaboration between patients and front line health providers when making decisions about how to safely manage their pain. It is important that Canadians know that these alternatives exist and are asking important questions,” says Chris Power, CEO, from the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

See: Yet another report shows North has province's highest death rate from opioid use

A study last year confirmed that Northern Ontario residents are dying opioid-related deaths at a rate much higher than the provincial average.

A study, by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network found the use of prescription opioids varies dramatically across Ontario, but overall the potent and addictive drugs are responsible for hundreds of overdose deaths in the province.