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Ontario Takes Action to Address Prescription Drug Abuse

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Takes Action to Address Prescription Drug Abuse

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Ontario is helping save lives and protect Ontarians' health by taking action to reduce the abuse of prescription narcotics and controlled substance medications across the province.

The abuse and misuse of prescription narcotics, including OxyContin, is a serious public health and safety issue in Ontario. The government is taking steps to prevent potential addiction and transitions to harsher drugs like heroin, while ensuring that people who truly need these medications to manage pain continue to have safe access to them.

Ontario has taken strong action to address prescription drug abuse including:

Narcotics Monitoring System
  • Ontario is monitoring and tracking access to narcotics and other controlled substances through our Narcotics Monitoring System.
  • Since spring 2012, pharmacists have been using the system to help ensure that prescriptions for narcotic and controlled drugs are dispensed safely and appropriately.
Increasing Access to Treatment
  • Ontario is providing $15 million to increase access to treatment for people addicted to opioids. The investments include:
    • $12 million for interdisciplinary clinics to provide opioid substitution treatment programs such as methadone and Suboxone, programs to increase access to addiction treatment and ancillary services for pregnant and parenting women with addictions
    • $2 million to support Aboriginal and First Nations communities, including $1.5 million for implementation of priorities identified by the Trilateral First Nations Health Senior Officials Committee working group on mental health and addictions, and $0.5million for services for off-reserve Aboriginal Ontarians
    • $1 million for indirect services, including approximately $0.5 million for public education and awareness activities to increase knowledge of the risks of opioids and awareness of available services, and $0.5 million for expanded real-time surveillance on opioids to include all emergency departments across the province and harm reduction programs.
  • The province is providing expanded access to alternative treatments, such as Suboxone.
  • Ontario is improving access to addictions programs for people in remote communities through the Ontario Telemedicine Network. There are over 1,000 Ontario Telemedicine Network sites across the province, including every hospital and many other health service providers.
  • We are working with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to identify communities in need of additional resources for addictions treatment.
  • Ontario is educating prescribers and partnering with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, to create treatment guidelines for front line workers, doctors and nurses.
  • We are working closely with health care experts and partners to develop education materials for physicians, emergency departments, and needle exchange and addiction programs to ensure that people who experience withdrawal or overdose symptoms receive the best possible care.
  • We have provided a compilation of website resources on prescription narcotics and controlled substances for healthcare providers and the public.
Monitoring Trends
  • In addition to the Narcotics Monitoring System, we are closely monitoring Emergency Rooms, ConnexOntario, Public Health Units and addiction treatment programs for changes in opioid trends.

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