More help for people with severe addictions to high-risk opioids like fentanyl will be available in Red Deer by the end of next January.
Narcotic transition services will be available through Alberta Health Services and are designed for those with severe opioid addiction who have not been able to start or stabilize on conventional treatment medications.
Under expert medical supervision, clients will transition from high-potency opioids like hydromorphone, diacetylmorphine and fentanyl to conventional medications and recovery-oriented care.
Since these narcotics present a significant risk to the community if diverted, and since patients with severe opioid addiction receiving these medications are extremely vulnerable, AHS will now be the only one to offer the service where dosing will be witnessed.
Service providers currently prescribing high-potency opioids for opioid addiction will have up to five months to transition patients onto conventional medications or transfer patients to a licensed AHS clinic.
Kath Hoffman, executive director of Safe Harbour Society, said the new service will add deeper support for those struggling with severe addiction.
“More support is always welcome. There is a whole continuum to serve,” Hoffman said.
Narcotic transition services will now be available in Calgary and Edmonton and expand to Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat.
“We continue to urgently respond to the addiction crisis in our province. We are taking steps to protect patients – and communities – from high-risk opioid narcotics, while still providing evidence-based care to those who need it,” said Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Mike Ellis, in a statement.
“In consulting with experts in addiction medicine, and reviewing best practices from across the world, including the Swiss model, I am confident this is the best path forward for Alberta.”
The province said the vast majority of Albertans with opioid addiction are able to successfully stabilize and enter recovery with conventional medications like Suboxone, Sublocade and methadone.
Any Albertan can access opioid agonist treatment on demand through Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program. Call 1-844-383-7688, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, for same-day access to addiction medicine specialists. There is no waitlist.
For additional support, information and referral to services, call 211 Alberta.