The region that includes Sarnia-Lambton still has one of the highest rates in Ontario when it comes to opioid prescriptions for pain.
This is something that the new physician from the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) leads to opiate reduction said they want to see the change.
"Despite the opiate crisis and public awareness, we are not seeing the prescription of opiates drop as we should," said Dr. Blake Pearson.
"So my whole goal is to educate on alternatives and establish programs so that we can reduce the rates of prescription opiates within our LHIN," he said.
According to the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, the rate (per 1,000 people) of opioids prescribing people for pain in 2017 ranged from 85.7 to almost double that by 168.4.
The rate at Erie St. Clair, which includes Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex, was 157.2.
This represents a fall of about seven points from the 2016 rate – according to the trend in Ontario – but still at the upper limit of the provincial spectrum.
Pearson, a physician specializing in medical cannabis as a treatment for patients in homes with conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain, said he was waiting until he officially took over as a doctor later this month to delve into details about his strategy.
"However, I look forward to working closely with doctors, health professionals and other experts across the CES region to develop a progressive strategy to make a real impact on the opioid and other addiction problems afflicting our community," he wrote . the e-mail.
Pearson also recently returned from several conferences in Israel, the US and Canada, where he was presenting his research on cannabinoid medicines.
"There was some really convincing evidence not only from me but from researchers in Israel," he said, that cannabis use may reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs and opioids in elderly patients, including those with dementia, who need sedation.
"I think we're still a little bit away from doctors as a whole, accepting this because of the lack of randomized controlled trials that we're used to being the gold standard," he said, but noted that research is ongoing. .
Meanwhile, many of the damages from the opioid crisis stem from street drugs, but reducing prescriptions where reasonable can also be good, said Irfan Dhalla, vice president of Health Quality Ontario.
"We prescribe opiates a lot more than doctors in many other countries, so it's probably a good thing if we're starting the opioids with a little less frequency," he said.
In Canada, in 2017, about 4,000 people, six in Sarnia-Lambton, died of opiate-related overdoses.
Health quality Ontario does not have an official position on the prescription of medical cannabis as an alternative, Dhalla said.
"But I know a lot of doctors think it's very reasonable to prescribe medical marijuana, especially if it results in someone getting high doses of opioids coming out of these drugs."
Generally non-opiates are the first step for patients with chronic pain, he said.
Massage, physical therapy and medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are some other alternatives, he said.
It is important not to suddenly stop opiates for people who are in them and stable, he said.
"Not only is it unpleasant, there is a risk that someone going through opioid withdrawal will turn to friends or illicit sources to contract opiates, and to do so (consume) contaminated opioids, overdose, and death."
Consult a physician before deciding to start the cannabinoid drug, Pearson said, as he may interact with other medications.
"Just because it's legal does not necessarily mean it's safe."
BY THE NUMBERS
Individual prescriptions for opioids for pain (2017):
-In Erie St. Clair
157.2 – rate per 1,000 people
153.9 – rate per 1,000 people
110.2 – rate per 1,000 people
Source: Ontario Drug Policy Research Network