Nurse practitioners in British Columbia are now able to prescribe substitute medication for opioids to people who are experiencing drug addition. Judy Darcy,
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, stated that there is a significant need to expand the tools for people in crisis. “This change is critically important, and the reason is pretty basic. You need to be alive in order to have a pathway to recovery,” Darcy said.
The drug crisis is currently claiming an average of four lives each day
Back in February, the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia expanded the prescribing standards to allows the prescribing of medications including injectable hydromorphone, buprenorphine-naloxone, and methadone.
“Let’s call it what it is– safe alternatives to the poisonous street drugs that are taking so many lives,” Darcy stated. She also added that this crisis takes the lives of four people every day in the province.
Before this change, the number of doctors providing opioid substitution therapy increased 60%, and the number of patients who received the care increased 126%.
Nurse practitioners will undergo necessary training
The nurse practitioners will be trained by the B.C. Centre of Substance Abuse to make sure that they offer holistic, compassionate care to patients.
Social factors that impact addiction must be taken into consideration such as poverty, housing, and various challenged that young people are faced with.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister @DarcyJudy announces nurse practitioners will now be able to prescribe medications in order to “meet increasing demand for opioid substitution treatment” #opioidcrisis pic.twitter.com/I9hOkcTkyt
— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) April 4, 2018
Access to primary care should also be increased for people with mental illness and addiction as well.
“They’re integrally linked,” Darcy said. “Nurse practitioners are vital in primary care. Among other reasons, being able to take the time and deal with all aspects of a person’s health.”
Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians don’t have access to a family doctor and they don’t even know that they need a nurse practitioner.
The federal government has also made it possible for prescribers to no longer need an exemption to prescribe substitute opioid medications beyond hospitals.